Yesterday, I delivered a presentation on ORO to one of our research centres here at the OU: the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG). During the Q&A session at the end, the issue of people’s unease in making final accepted draft versions of journal papers and book chapters openly available in ORO was raised. Generally, the feeling from the audience was that they were very interested in open access to their research, but they would much rather it be the definitive published version (a version that not many publishers will allow to be deposited in an open access reository) rather than the final accepted draft version (a version that many publishers will allow to be deposited).
There wasn’t a lot of time available for a detailed discussion on this issue, but it occurred to me that it is probably something that many other researchers outside of the CCIG Forum would be interested in, and so I’ve decided to write a blog post on the topic.
First, here are a few points about why it is a good thing, a safe thing, and indeed perhaps a necessary thing, to deposit your final accepted draft manuscripts in ORO:
- If your research is externally funded, there is an ever-increasing chance that you will be required by your funding body to make the published output from that research available in an open access form as soon as possible after publication. Depending on whom you choose to publish with, the only option open to you to comply with this may be to deposit your final accepted draft version in your institutional repository, i.e. ORO. It is worth noting that all of the UK Research Councils now place such a requirement on their grantees.
- ORO always provides a link through to the definitive published version of your work, but, whether an individual arriving at your work through ORO can click through to that published version depends on whether his or her university has access (a journal subscription, for example). There is a very strong possibility that this won’t be the case. So, in making a copy of your final accepted draft version available to this person instead, you have broadened access to your research and possibly even improved your chances of becoming well cited.
- We will soon be including cover sheets for full text items deposited in ORO. These cover sheets will explain to the person viewing or downloading the article exactly what version they are accessing, and again will provide a link through to the definitive published version. There will also be a link through to our FAQ on how to cite papers discovered through ORO.
To a certain extent, I would say a decision has to be made by an individual depositing in ORO what is most important to them: 1) open and wider access to their research; or 2) the look and presentation of that research. If it is the former, then depositing final accepted draft versions is definitely for them – it is a way (within the copyright agreements of most publishers) to make their work freely available online. However, if it is the latter, then that person may not be happy about a non-copyedited, non-typeset version of their article being available in the public domain. For these individuals – and particularly for those that would still like to explore open access options for their research – perhaps open access publishing is the answer, which I’ll now move on to.
To be clear, when thinking about journal articles, there are two main ways to make your work available in an open access form:
- Deposit the final accepted draft version in an open access repository such as ORO.
- Publish your work in an open access journal.
Then, within option 2) there are a further three variants:
- Fully open access journals that do not charge a fee.
- Fully open access journals that do charge a fee.
- So-called ‘hybrid’ journals that contain both subscribed content and open access content, the latter of which they charge for.
Obviously, publishing in a fully open access journal that does not charge a fee seems on the surface to be the best solution. However, many of these journals are quite young and are not the recognised ‘journals of choice’ that many researchers habitually prefer to publish with in their respective fields. For a list of such journals see the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
There are now, however, a few commercial publishers that have made open access publishing their sole publishing model; for example BioMedCentral (BMC), Public Library of Science (PLOS) and Hindawi. These publishers have made what appear to be sustainable businesses from open access publishing by charging a fee to their authors. This fee covers all of their peer review, editorial and production costs – something that subscription fees cover under traditional publishing models.
Furthermore, what I would term traditional commercial publishers (e.g. Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Sage, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press etc.) now operate many of their journals under the ‘hybrid’ model mentioned above. That is, if you want your paper to be published open access online then you can pay for the privilege. If not, it just gets published as subscribed content in the usual way. In fact, many of you may have started to receive emails from your publishers upon acceptance of your papers asking if you want to pay for open access. These will be ‘hybrid’ journals.
The issue, of course, with paying for open access is how? Well, some funding bodies (e.g. the Wellcome Trust) are offering to pay for the publication fees of their grantees, or apply retrospectively to claim them back. Others, such as the UK Research Councils, invite researchers to include publication fees as part of their indirect costs in their grant applications. In addition, there is another school of thought that universities themselves should have budgets for open access publishing fees, to which researchers can apply for funds. The University of Nottingham is an example of a UK institution that has recently gone down this route. Universities UK and the Research Information Network have just produced a very useful guide on paying for open access publication charges, including advice for authors, universities, publishers, and funding bodies. It’s well worth a read if anyone is interested in following this issue up further.
In summary then, with my Repository Manager hat on, I would of course encourage everybody to deposit their final accepted draft manuscripts in ORO. It is currently the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to ensure open and broader access to your research. However, I do understand people’s concern about draft versions, even if they have been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication. Therefore, for these individuals, I would recommend exploring the possibility of open access publishing. Of course, if you do publish in a open access journal we can still put it in ORO, so everyone’s a winner!