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Open Access: An Introduction: How do I make my research open access?

This guide explains the concept and importance of Open Access, and offers advice on how to get involved.

Routes to Open Access

Yellow, orange and green Open Access logos.

For publications (like journal articles, conference papers, books and other published outputs), there are two "routes" to Open Access:

  • "Gold" Open Access is where the original publisher makes the final, published version of the work immediately and openly available on their own website. In many cases, this may involve payment of a fee (for articles this is known as the "article processing charge" or APC). For information on the options that are available to RGU researchers who want to publish using Gold Open Access, see our guide here.
  • "Green" Open Access is where the original publisher does not make the final, published version of the work openly available on their own website. However, authors are instead permitted to deposit a version (usually not the final, published version) on a repository. There is no payment required, but frequently the publisher imposes an embargo on when the repository version can be made open access. OpenAIR is RGU's open access institutional repository - a database of research done by our academics and research students. For more advice on getting your work on OpenAIR, see our guide here. RGU advocates the "Green" route, as the University does not have a central fund to cover the costs of Gold Open Access APCs.

For other research outputs (like research data, exhibitions and theses), there is no "Gold" and "Green" - just Open Access! All that is required is the permission of whoever might claim copyright. OpenAIR is able to hold many different kinds of output, making them openly available online. As mentioned above, for more information about getting your research onto OpenAIR, see our guide here. We also have an entire guide on managing and sharing research data, available here.

Open Access licenses

Part of making your work open access will often involve making it available under an open license. There are various kinds of these, which enable other people to use and re-use your work in different ways. Some of the most well-known open licenses are Creative Commons - more details on these can be found here. The following are some examples of commonly-encountered open licenses:

  • Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) - This is one of the most open licenses provided by Creative Commons. A summary of the license can be found here. It permits people to share and adapt resources, for both commercial- and non-commercial purposes. The only restriction is that they must also give appropriate credit to the original source, indicate if changes have been made, and link to the text of the license.
  • Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) - Although still an open license, this is the most restrictive license offered by Creative Commons. A summary of the license can be found here. It permits people to share resources. The restrictions are that they cannot adapt the resources and they cannot share them for commercial purposes. They must also give appropriate credit to the original source and link to the text of the license. Unless permitted (or required) to use an alternative license by the original publisher, OpenAIR applies a CC BY-NC-ND license by default.
  • Open Government License (OGL) - Many countries have a nationally-applied license for public sector information. Details of the UK's OGL can be found here. It permits people to share and adapt resources, for both commercial- and non-commercial purposes. The only restriction is that they must also give appropriate credit to the original source and link to the text of the license.