Open Access Week 2017 may be coming to a close, but here at RGU Library we are always working to support Open Access, whether it is helping our researchers to make their research openly available, or helping people to locate and use open resources, or supporting Open Access in any number of other ways. (We do hang up the bright orange waistcoats until next year, though…)
If you ever want to talk to us about Open Access, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to drop in and speak to us in person. Don’t forget to check out our range of guides on various aspects of Open Access as well:
– Open Access in general
– Funder and REF requirements for Open Access
– Gold Open Access support
Today’s blog post is our third response to the theme of “Open In Order To…” One of the most important reasons for researchers to engage with Open Access is that it is now a mandatory requirement of many funding bodies.
While these requirements have been undoubtedly responsible for a lot of additional pressure on researchers and universities to take steps that will ensure compliance, the motives behind funder’s policies around Open Access are actually based on the numerous benefits that it offers to the world of scholarly communications. In no small way, it is the presence of funder mandates for Open Access that has been the catalyst for change in today’s research environment, driving developments in system infrastructures, workflows and ideologies.
Meeting funder requirements is vital for ensuring future funding opportunities, so it is very important for researchers to make themselves aware of any requirements that affect them. The Library has a guide describing the requirements of some of the most important funders (including those relating to REF2021), and are able to offer support to any researchers who have queries about Open Access in general. Feel free to get in touch with the team at email@example.com and we will be happy to help.
Today’s blog post is our second response to the theme of “Open In Order To…” An important aspect of Open Access is the idea that once something has been made openly available, it should remain so; this of course necessitates measures to ensure the long-term preservation of openly-available materials.
Let’s take the example of a traditionally-published journal article. The publisher puts it on their website (and charges anyone who wants to read it), but does not permit people to host copies elsewhere as well. What happens in the event that there is a technical fault with their website, or in the (relatively unlikely) event that the publisher’s business fails and they cease to exist? Assuming that the publisher has no continuity plans, then suddenly there are no copies of that journal article available to anyone and it becomes almost impossible to access that piece of research if you had not already managed to buy a personal copy before the website disappeared.
Contrast this with the same journal article published under Open Access. The publisher puts it on their website (and still charges anyone who wants to read it, if it is Green Open Access; if it is Gold Open Access then they make it freely available – see here for a more detailed description of Green and Gold), but now other copies of the article are also hosted elsewhere (e.g. on open access repositories). Not only does this make the article even easier to discover and widen its potential audience, but it makes it far more likely that there will still be a copy available into the future. This is further enhanced by many repositories’ commitment to digital preservation, which looks to ensure that content remains accessible as file formats and software continue to change.
A further example of how Open Access can help to preserve research outputs is in the form of a project website. “On the Edge Research” is an ongoing research programme looking at the development of artists’ roles within society. It has a project website, which documents the various constituent projects and outputs. However, what will happen when the research programme comes to an end? Who will be responsible for ensuring that the website is maintained and that the projects outputs remain available for people to learn from in future? The Publications Team at RGU have helped the On the Edge project participants to preserve their work on our institutional repository, OpenAIR@RGU, creating a full set of records that describe the various aspects of the project (the main page for the project is available here). As an open access repository, OpenAIR@RGU will be able to help preserve this research and ensure that its findings will continue to be available for others to learn from for many years to come.
Today’s blog post is our first response to the theme of “Open In Order To…” Arguably, the most significant benefit of Open Access is that it helps to maximise the impact of research.
Making research freely available online helps to remove financial barriers to readership; although Internet access continues to be limited or unavailable for many people, Open Access nevertheless opens research to far larger an audience than is available through traditional (i.e. pay-to-view) models of dissemination. Having a larger audience means that research is also more likely to have impact, as more people are able to learn from its findings. For example, owners of small businesses are more likely to benefit from management research, and healthcare practitioners are more likely to be able to implement the conclusions from health research in their day-to-day work. Moreover, it can help research to have a real impact on key policy decisions, whether local, national or international in scope.
While the Publications Team at RGU Library are not able to keep track of the impact that RGU’s open access research is having, we can demonstrate just how much it is being used, which may give an indication of how many people may be benefitting from it. In the past five years, there have been 273,746 downloads from OpenAIR@RGU, of which one of our most frequently-downloaded items is an article on green consumerism with 8,725 downloads since it was added to the repository in August 2014. As a result of publisher restrictions on Green Open Access (where we make a version of an article openly available on OpenAIR, but it is published as pay-to-view on the publisher’s website), we often apply embargoes to our records, while still making them discoverable to the general public. In the past year alone, we have received 126 requests for access to embargoed publications, many of which our researchers have helped to fulfil by providing one-to-one copies in line with publisher permissions.
Below is a graph, showing a breakdown of download figures from OpenAIR since December 2012. As you can see, the overall trend indicates that downloads are increasing:
If you are an RGU researcher and want to find out more about how to get your research on OpenAIR, or if you are interested in your personal usage figures, just get in touch with the team at firstname.lastname@example.org!
This is the first in a series of blog posts we are producing to celebrate International Open Access Week 2017. See here for full details of the event and what we are doing to coincide with it at RGU.
Open Access means making research outputs (like journal articles and conference papers) freely available online under open licences that enable other people to re-use them. It is related to other “Open” movements, such as Open Education and Open Data. As a globally-recognised event, Open Access Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of- and encourage engagement with Open Access, and to celebrate the benefits that it offers.
“Open In Order To…” is the theme of this year’s event. It prompts us to think specifically about what Open Access can help to achieve. Over the next few days, we’ll be making several blog posts that suggest responses to this theme. You can also engage in discussions on this theme with the rest of the Open Access community on Twitter, using #OAweek and #OpenInOrderTo.
Meanwhile, we will also be hosting a pop-up stand that will appear at various locations across campus throughout the week. Keep an eye out for us (we’ll be wearing bright orange waistcoats!) and come talk to us; we’ll be offering free, Open Access-themed foods as well!