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Subject LibGuides

Open Access: Why Open Access?

What is Open Access?

open access icon"Open access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions
(Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office of Scholarly Communication, 2004
The Open Access movement dates back to the early '00s,  although discipline-specific initiatives began earlier.  One of the first formal declarations of the movement's principles was the Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002),  defining "world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds" as a public good.

The two most commonly-used mechanisms for achieving open access are often called the ‘gold’ and ‘green’ routes:

  • Gold – publishing your output on a platform which provides immediate e-access for everyone, free of charge, with a licence which permits re-use. Publishers can recoup their costs through a number of mechanisms, including through payments from authors (known as article processing charges, or APCs), or through advertising, donations or other subsidies. Some publishers operate a 'hybrid' model, with open and paywalled articles on the same platform.
  • Green – providing open access to the author's final manuscript or published output in a searchable archive, commonly known as a repository, maintained by the author's institution or a scholarly society/professional body.  The publisher may impose an embargo on open access to the file, normally in a range of 6 to 24 months.

Creative Commons logoCreative Commons is a widely-known licensing scheme for open access works. It enables authors and other rights-holders to specify whether readers are permitted to share, modify and/or commercialise the work without further permission.  For more information about the appropriate open licence for your work, start from the Library's guide to Copyright.

Open Access to your Thesis

Many universities help their successful PhD candidates to make their thesis openly available in their institutional repository, to maximise the audience for this work.  They may also preserve the printed and bound volume in the Library for readers.  The British Library maintains the EThOS database: records of theses from all UK universities, with the file(s) free to download when available.

mortar board iconUniversity of Hull PhD thesis authors are required to deposit their examined thesis in the University's Hydra repository. Guidance about the process can be found on the Doctoral College Sharepoint site (for Hull students only).

You may embargo your thesis for up to 5 years if your research is commercially sensitive, or you plan to adapt it for publication. Be mindful that it's rare for a scholarly publisher to reject a journal article or book proposal on the basis that it's related to a thesis which is open access, as they understand that early career researchers benefit from the exposure.  Check your target publisher's guidance for authors.

If you received external funding for your PhD, your funder may set a limit on thesis embargo duration, in order to increase the potential for public engagement.  Check the terms of your funding award.

Support for Open Access at the University of Hull

The University of Hull Open Access Policy came into force on 1st April 2015 and was last updated in April 2021.  

The Policy recognises open access publication as a valuable component of dissemination for research outputs.

The author's responsibilities include:

  • Retain copyright where this doesn't conflict with any contractual obligations.
  • Record all research outputs in the CRIS (currently Worktribe), and deposit the full text.
  • Act on any funder or sector-wide policies relating to deposit deadlines and licence terms.
  • Consider issues of privacy, security and IP before sharing the output.

The University will provide the relevant systems and guidance to facilitate deposit, and support engagement with this process.  The University will take responsibility for preserving records and outputs deposited, including making the works public in the University Repository with an open licence where funder/publisher terms permit.

The University provides services and resources to support authors at several key stages of the publishing process:

Open Access to Research Data

An increasing number of publishers require authors to make the data which underlies their papers openly available, to maximise the applicability of their research findings.

The international open access advocate CHORUS has created a directory of publisher policies on data availability, updated annually.

Information for University of Hull researchers about options for making your data open:

What's in it for me?

Open Access to your research publications can bring many benefits.

updateWiley and Springer have both carried out analyses in 2021 demonstrating increased readership, social media attention and citation for open access papers published in their journals.  (Their financial interest in deriving income from article processing charges should be noted here).


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