We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Open Research

What is Open Access?

Publishing open access (OA) means that research outputs are freely available online for people to read and potentially re-use.

As a leading research institution, Durham recognises the value of its world class research and is committed to sharing its knowledge and expertise as widely as possible in order to enhance its use and impact.

Durham’s preferred option is to support the green route to open access publishing via its institutional repository, Durham Research Online. In line with the University's Open Access policy, all researchers are required to deposit copies of their research in Durham Research Online.

Your funder may have a preference for your research outputs to be published in gold open access.

Frequently asked questions

Various models have emerged to support open access publishing.

Two of the models that you may hear about most often are Gold and Green.

Gold open access

Gold open access refers to a published work which is free to access via the publisher’s website immediately upon publication. It will often have clear re-use rights (perhaps detailed through a Creative Commons licence) which go beyond what is permitted by copyright legislation. A publisher may charge a fee for this through applying an Article Processing Charge (APC) or Book Processing Charge (BPC) to the individual work.

Some journals are fully/pure open access and contain only open access articles. Others, known as hybrid journals, offer both open and subscription content.

There are journals which do not charge authors (or their institutions) to publish open access. These may be subsidised by a third party or paid for by library partnerships (e.g. Open Library of Humanities). This is sometimes referred to as ‘diamond’ or ‘platinum’ OA.

Green open access

Green open access (also referred to as “self-archiving”) is when an author publishes in a subscription-based journal and a copy of the research (usually the author’s final, peer-reviewed manuscript) is deposited in either an institutional or subject repository (such as DRO). There is no fee to be paid to the publisher.

Following any potential embargo period (set by the publisher) the manuscript is then made free to access. The published final version of the journal remains behind a subscription paywall on the journal website, but the "post-print" copy is available to anyone from the repository. The paper may look different to the Version of Record in layout and design but the content should be the same.

This is the university's preferred route (with mandatory deposit of all outputs in DRO).

Some book publishers also offer green open access as an option for book chapters.

There are several arguments as to why Open Access is important.

  • Public Funding: If research is publicly funded, the outputs that the research generates should be open to all of society to reap the potential benefits. If locked away behind a commercial publisher's pay-wall further public money may then have to be spent to access it.
  • Financial: Universities pay large subscriptions to provide access to journal materials online. Large increases in journal prices, often many times the rate of inflation, have meant that most university libraries can no longer afford subscriptions to all of the journals that their academics and researchers need for their work. Opening up access offers an opportunity to re-dress the balance, boosting access to research, the potential for impact generation and the redirection of research funding directly into research activities.
  • Technology: Many aspects of the traditional publishing model have been outdated by the internet and the ability to access, share and use information freely. Open Access offers new opportunities for collaboration and research unrestricted by having to pay to access the research already available.
  • Funder compliance: Many funders (including the UK Research Councils, the Wellcome Trust and the European Commission) require that research outputs are made open access as a condition of funding. Research England has an Open Access policy for research outputs submitted for the next REF . The European Commission requires Open Access for Horizon 2020 funded outputs.

Open Access publishing aims to maximise the potential impact of your research by:

  • Increasing the visibility of your research outside of the academic community
  • Expanding the access to peer-reviewed research findings to all researchers worldwide.
  • Providing access to a broader audience including commercial, public sector, third sector and international readers who may not otherwise have had access.
  • Maximising the potential for collaboration and impact generating activities resulting from a larger and wider readership.
  • Boosting citation potential where accessible research is more widely read and the rights of authors are properly acknowledged and cited.

Institutions may also benefit from an enhanced reputation as their research becomes more visible both inside and out the academic community.

When making one of your research outputs open access your publisher may ask which licence you would like to assign to it. This is most often the case when you are publishing via the gold route to open access. When publishing via the green route your publisher may insist upon which licence is assigned when it is made available via a repository. Alternatively, when finding an open access article that you would like to read, download, and re-use you may notice that it has a licence attached and wonder what this means.

The most common licences applied to open access research outputs are the Creative Commons licences. Through these licences, copyright owners retain copyright to their online works and can also allow others to copy, distribute, and re-use their work (without the user having to request permission each time).

If you have a funder that is paying the Article Processing Charge (APC) for you to publish your work in gold open access it is likely that they will dictate which of the Creative Commons licences should be assigned. The RCUK Open Access Policy, for example, mandates that the CC BY (Creative Commons Attribution) licence is assigned to the articles funded by one of the UK Research Councils. This is the most open of the licences and allows others to re-use the work, including for commercial purposes, provided that a full acknowledgement is provided.

Common licences for green open access articles are CC BY-NC and CC BY-NC-ND. These are more restrictive with regards to re-use. A brief description of each of the licences can be found below and additional information can be found on the Creative Commons website.

Before assigning a licence to your work you may wish to discuss any decisions with Legal Services.

The Licenses

Attribution (CC BY)This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered.

Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.

Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND) This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND) This license is the most restrictive of the six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Before submitting to a journal you may wish to find out what your options are for green and/or gold open access and whether these options comply with the REF open access policy and/or those of your funder.

Sherpa offers a couple of online services that you may wish to use – Sherpa Romeo and Sherpa FACT. To use this accurately you will need to have some awareness of what the policy requirements are. Alternatively, you can contact the Library using the form below and you will receive a response from a member of the Open Access team. Please provide as much information as possible so that you receive information that is relevant to your particular needs.

Form: enquire about a journal's open access options