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Open Access   Tags: libguides, open access, research, research council  

Learn more about Open Access and how it affects your research.
Last Updated: Sep 11, 2014 URL: Print Guide

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What is Open Access?



Open Access (OA) is all about sharing research freely and openly. The fundamental principle underlying OA is that research funded by the public should be freely available to the public.  For the typical researcher this means that a copy of a research paper should be placed online as soon as possible after publication or completion with no restrictions on who can access, view or download it. In this way OA bypasses current obstacles to access such as the prohibitive cost of journal subscriptions, coupled with restrictive licences, that exclude most people from viewing research.

Open Access as a movement has been around for at least a decade.   Support has grown significantly in the UK over the last few years for the following reasons:

  1. Government-driven policy on widening access to research - a response to the Finch Report
  2. OA as a principle has been taken up by many of the major research funders, including the Research Councils (RCUK) and The Wellcome Trust. All Research Councils now require that research funded by them is put on OA by some method.
  3. HEFCE has introduced an OA Policy for the post-2014 REF.  The main points of the policy are:
    • it will be compulsory to make all research outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 Open Access in an institutional or subject repository within 3 months of acceptance.  This applies to journal articles and conference proceedings, but other formats and an earlier start date are encouraged
    • outputs should be in a readable format so that they can be searched and re-used
    • outputs should be properly attributed 

There are two main routes to Open Access: Green and Gold.  Please see How Do I... for further information.


Open Access Publishing, Threat or Opportunity


Join our LOAF (Lancaster Open Access Forum) email distribution list!

This is a closed list for members of Lancaster University and is used to provide regular updates on developments in Open Access. We would also like to encourage list members to use the list for sharing practice and experiences as well as more general discussions on this theme.

To subscribe to the list then send an email to and type (in the body of the mail message) subscribe loaf.  There is no need to add a subject to the email. 


Why should I put my research on Open Access?

Open Access is not just about benefiting the general public, there are clear benefits to individual researchers and their institutions:

  • Increased visibility of research and researchers, helping you to reach new audiences
  • Increased impact: Open Access research is cited more frequently
  • Research lifecycle can be accelerated: published, read, cited, built on
  • Compliance with funder mandates
  • Creation of new collaborative opportunities and exchange of knowledge
  • Public good: sharing scholarship and intellectual wealth

Research that is openly and freely available will be found more easily through, for example, Google, Google Scholar, specialist search engines such as BASE, and harvesters that trawl the web aggregating related content.

A number of recent studies have clearly demonstrated that putting research on OA increases the number of times it is cited. Additionally, the research lifecycle may be speeded up – it is quicker to get research out there and noticed and it can make collaborating and sharing easier.

Lancaster University is committed to ensuring that the outputs of our research are made readily available to anyone who would benefit from them.  See Lancaster University's Statement on OA:


Find out more about the Open Access movement


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