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What is it?

Open access (OA) means that your electronic scholarly research outputs are made freely available on the web to all, with no or limited license restrictions. By making your outputs available in this way, you can increase their reach and impact.

Some researchers have concerns that OA journals and publishing can be of a lesser quality. However, reputable OA publishers operate with the same quality standards and peer-review processes as traditional subscription publishers (it is always advisable to verify the credentials of any publisher, open access or otherwise). When publishing open access, you can also retain control over re-use of your work by choosing (opens in a new window)creative commons licence that is appropriate for your research and discipline, preventing modification of the original work and ensuring it is only reused in its original form.

Many funders now require that you publish open access, but the OA world can be tricky to navigate. The information below will help you make sense of it. More support around OA is available via (opens in a new window)UCD Library. Information on the national transition to an open research environment is available from the National Open Research Forum ((opens in a new window)NORF).

The benefits of open access

The potential readership for OA articles is far greater than for publications where the full text is restricted to subscribers, so (opens in a new window)open access articles generally receive higher citation rates and significantly more engagement in terms of downloads and views. But there are many other benefits to publishing OA, beyond exposure and citations:

  • Your research is accessible to decision-makers outside the academic community, making it more likely to influence policy and practice.
  • The public can read and use your findings, and taxpayers get access to the research they helped to fund.
  • Your research is compliant with grant rules, since OA is becoming increasingly mandated by funding agencies. This is especially true in light of (opens in a new window)Plan S, an initiative for OA publishing launched by a European consortium of research agencies and funders (including Science Foundation Ireland). For more information on how to adhere to different funders’ policies around publication requirements, read (opens in a new window)this Libguide. Publishing your research through OA when it is not mandatory can also benefit you as a researcher in the future: it shows future employers and funding bodies that you are keeping up-to-date with the OA movement and will likely comply with their OA policies.
  • Researchers in countries or institutions where many subscription journals are not available can access and use your work.


Routes to open access publishing

UCD researchers can make their outputs open access in a number of ways:

  • Other OA journals. Some journals charge a fee called an Article Processing Charge (APC) to cover publishing costs – this charge may be covered by your funder. Some OA journals and funder publishing platforms (like (opens in a new window)Open Research Europe) do not charge OA fees as they are funded by institutions, societies and libraries.
  • Self-archiving (“Green” open access). If you publish behind a paywall, you can also “self-archive” the author’s accepted manuscript (AAM) version of your publications in an open access repository at no cost. In other words, in addition to publishing in traditional subscription journals, you can deposit an author-accepted manuscript version of your articles in an open access or institutional repository, such as (opens in a new window)Research Repository UCD. In some cases, an embargo period may be applied by the publisher.

For more details on routes to open access, and funder requirements, see (opens in a new window)this Libguide.


Open access databases

There are many OA databases. Here are a couple of key ones to explore:


Pre-print archives

The option to publish pre-prints allows you to get feedback and insight on your research from peers, which may help you make revisions when preparing articles for submission. Sharing your work at an early stage can also help promote your research by increasing visibility. Here are some notable pre-print archives:

  • (opens in a new window)ArXiv. Open access to over 900,000 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics.
  • (opens in a new window)SocArXiv. An open archive of the social sciences, providing a free, non-profit, open access platform for social scientists to upload working papers, pre-prints, and published papers, with the option to link data and code.
  • (opens in a new window)bioRxiv. A free online archive and distribution service for unpublished pre-prints in the life sciences. It's operated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a not-for-profit research and educational institution.
  • (opens in a new window)OSF Preprints. A free, open-source service of the Center for Open Science, providing a platform for many disciplinary pre-print services including AgriXiv, PsyArXiv and SportRxiv.

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