What is open access?

Open access means making your research outputs freely available online. It is also a term used to describe a wider effort to make academic research available and accessible to the widest possible audience. As noted in the REF Guidance on Submissions, 'open access research brings benefits to researchers, students, institutions, governments, public bodies, professionals and practitioners, citizen scientists and many others. Open access has the potential to make research more efficient and impactful.' As suggested by its promotion in the REF guidance, open access is also a major part of the structures which govern the funding and evaluation of research. 

What does open access have to do with the REF?

The 2021 Research Excellence Framework includes an open access policy which requires in-scope outputs to be made openly available in a subject or institutional repository in order to be eligible for submission. In-scope refers to 'journal articles and conference contributions (with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)) which are accepted for publication from 1 April 2016 and published on or before 31 December 2020.' The policy mandates that a peer-reviewed, full text version of these research outputs be deposited on a repository within three months of their acceptance by a publisher, and made discoverable, and free to read, download and search within, by anyone with an internet connection. 

How do I make my research open? 

There are two major routes to Open Access: gold and green.  

Gold open access refers to the immediate, permanent, and free to access availability of the published version of record on the publisher’s website and with a licence that permits copying and reuse. Typically, gold open access involves payment of an Article Processing Charge (APC) to the publisher in order to attach such a licence. Every article in a fully 'gold' OA journal will be accessible in this way at the point of access; a list of such journals can be found on the Directory of Open Access Journals. 'Hybrid' journals are a mix of paid gold OA and paywalled subscription articles. 

Green open access makes the final text of a published paper (the 'Accepted Manuscript'), along with any original images, tables, etc., available on a subject or institutional repository, typically after an embargo period that follows the article's publication in a journal or on a journal site. 

What is the RVC's policy?

Any paper authored or co-authored by RVC staff must be made available on the RVC research repository. This can be the version of record, if gold open access has been arranged, or it can be the Accepted Manuscript, if using the 'green' route. It is the RVC's policy to support green open access for articles wherever possible, though immediate open access might be require to comply with UKRI and COAF funded research grants. Please get in touch with the library in case of any questions. 

This policy ensures that the College's research is widely and freely available, and also eligible for submission to the Research Excellence Framework based on the REF Open Access Policy. Please notify us of acceptances, and attached your final accepted manuscript as a Word document, at publicationsrepos@rvc.ac.uk after receiving notice of publication. 

For the college's full policy on Open Access, please see the RVC Open Access Policy.

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