Library Researcher Series: Open Access

Session Description: Making Your Publications Open Access

Learn about author rights and discover how to make your publications more accessible to readers: open access journals and repositories. Session last offered Oct 22, 2013.

This Session...

This workshop session is geared towards researchers who would like to know more about their rights as authors and how they can make their publications more accessible to readers.

The resources discussed in this workshop, and more information on open access and related issues, can be found on the Open Access LibGuide.

Also see:

Dawson, D. (2013). Making your publications open access: Resources to assist researchers and librarians. College & Research Libraries News, 74(9), 473–476.

What is Open Access?

Background: The Serials Crisis

The serials crisis was the impetus for the open access movement. Here is the most well-known graphic illustration of how the costs of subscription journals have become unsustainable for libraries:

Full report: ARL Statistics 2004-05 (pdf)

More sources of information on journal pricing can be found on the SPARC website:

Taking the Gold Road: OA Journals

The Gold Road to OA simply means publishing in an open access journal.

To find a reputable OA journal start at the DOAJ:

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) : You can search for OA journals by subject area or title. DOAJ is a quality controlled list; if a journal is listed here it is reasonably likely to be legitimate. However, you should also always check Jeffrey Beall's Lists of "potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers" or journals. If a journal or publisher is on Beall's Lists then you should be cautious about dealing with them.

Ulrich's : You can also search the serials directory, Ulrich's, for OA journals in your subject area. Use the Advanced Search option and Limit Your Results to the Key Feature "Open Access".


BioMed Central publishes more than 200 journals in the fields of science, technology, and medicine. SpringerOpen, ChemistryCentral and PhysMathCentral are also part of the BioMed Central group. U of S authors receive a 15% discount on publishing fees.

Hindawi publishes more than 200 journals in a range of disciplines.

Public Library of Science (PLoS) publishes a suite of biology and medical journals.

Open Humanities Press journals are leading open access publications in critical and cultural theory.

Synergies is a not-for-profit platform for the publication and the dissemination of research results in social sciences and humanities published in Canada.

"Hybrid Journals" is the term used for subscription journals that provide an open access option for authors who choose to pay the additional fee.

Publishers with Paid Options for Open Access - a list maintained by the SHERPA/RoMEO folks.

This Wikipedia entry has a list of publishers too.

More and more subscription journals are offering this option - check the website of your favourite journal to see if it does!

Taking the Green Road: OA Repositories

The Green Road to OA refers to posting copies of your publications in an open online repository (or on your own webpage); this is known as "self-archiving". Even if you have already published in a closed-access journal you can usually still post a copy of your manuscript online. You can review the copyright transfer agreement that you signed with the publisher - but it is probably MUCH easier to visit the SHERPA/RoMEO site:

RoMEO is a searchable database of publisher's policies regarding the self-archiving of journal articles on the web and in open access repositories. Look up the title of the journal that you published in to see the general policies for self-archiving - unless you altered the copyright agreement. Usually the important points with publishers are that you post a specific version of the article (most often NOT the final typeset version), and that you link to their version on the publisher's website.

Once you have determined that you can post a copy, and what version, then you need to find a repository.


Goggle Scholar indexes most open access repositories, so readers will be able to locate the open version of your article this way.

Institutional Repositories (IRs) - Repositories based at institutions. Many university libraries have developed IRs that host the results of research carried out at their institutions. Currently the U of S does not have an institutional repository available to post in. But, if the article was published with co-authors at other institutions check with them to see if they have an IR and post a copy of your article there.

Subject Repositories - Respositories based on discipline area.

Some well-known examples:

PubMed Central Canada is a free digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed health and life sciences literature based on PubMed Central. - preprints in the fields of physics, mathematics, non-linear science, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance and statistics.

SSRN eLibrary - Social Science Research Network is composed of a number of specialized research networks in each of the social sciences.

OpenDOAR - is an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories. Each repository has been visited by OpenDOAR staff to check the information that is recorded in the directory.

Multidisciplinary Respositories - Repositories that are not limited to one discipline area. A few options:





Your own website - You can treat your own webpage as your personal repository too. Potential readers will be able to find your articles through a browser search - but academic search engines might miss it. To make sure your papers are discoverable to academic audiences it is best to archive in an actual repository. As with other self-archiving methods, make sure you post the version of your article permitted by your publisher.

Other places to post - There are also some networking sites for researchers that include the ability to post and share articles. As with other self-archiving methods, make sure you post the version of your article permitted by your publisher.

Funder's Policies

Many funding agencies are now developing policies on open access as well. Some, like the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., require fundees deposit papers resulting from their research in repositories (see NIH Public Access Policy).

Do you know the OA policy of your funding agency? If not, you can check SHERPA/JULIET:

JULIET is a searchable database of funding agencies' open access policies.

Policies of the major Canadian funding agencies regarding requirements for making research outputs accessible.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) - CIHR Open Access Policy. As of January 1, 2013, researchers awarded funding from CIHR are required to adhere with the following responsibilities:

  • ensure that all research papers generated from CIHR funded projects are freely accessible through the Publisher's website or an online repository within 12 months of publication.
  • deposit bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data into the appropriate public database (e.g. gene sequences deposited in GenBank) immediately upon publication of research result.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) - SSHRC’s governing council approved a policy on open access in 2006, deciding to take “an awareness-raising, educational and promotional approach to [the policy’s] implementation, rather than imposing mandatory requirements.” SSHRC also has a Research Data Archiving Policy.

Comprehensive Brief on Open Access to Publications and Research Data for the Federal Granting Agencies - Commissioned by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, June 2011.

Access to Research Results: Guiding Principles - A shared set of guiding principles for improving access to publicly funded research from SSHRC, CIHR, and NSERC (the Government of Canada’s principal funders of research and scholarship in the higher education sector).

Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has so far been silent on this issue.

The OA Citation Advantage

There is now considerable evidence that open access (OA) articles are more highly cited. This is known as the OA Citation Advantage.

The Open Access Citation Advantage Service - maintains a list of studies on this

Author Rights (SPARC Guide)


A guide to your rights as the author of a publication (by SPARC).

The SPARC Author Addendum - Use this form to retain key rights to your publications.

Publications Fund

The U of S Publications Fund provides funding to support manuscript preparation, publishing subventions and learned journal subsidies. Grants up to $1,000 (per faculty* member, per year) available for open access charges.

**this fund will support Open Access journal fees**

Deadlines of January 1st, May 1st and September 1st every year.

*only faculty are eligible for this fund

Beware of Scam and Predatory Online Journals

Unfortunately, there are some "journals" that mascarade as legitimate open access publications but are in fact fraudulent scams. They exploit the author-pays model of open access publishing for their own profit. 

Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, maintains lists of these "predatory" publishers and journals at his blog Scholarly Open Access.

Author Addenda

If you do publish in a traditional journal consider altering the publication agreement in order to retain more rights. You can do this with an addendum:

Addendum Options:

SPARC Canadian Author's Addendum - Use this form to modify the publication agreement in order to retain more rights to your published work. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) advises academic authors to retain their copyright and recommends using the SPARC addendum.

The Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine will help you generate a PDF form that you can attach to a journal publisher's copyright agreement to ensure that you retain certain rights (you can select criteria).

Other Options:

You can also modify the publication aggreement yourself to suit your unique requirements. See this list of the various rights that you may want to retain.

Creative Commons is a set of copyright licenses and tools that provide creators with a simple, standardized way to keep their copyright while allowing certain uses of their work.