Research funders in Europe want to ensure that research output they sponsor are openly accessible. They implement Plan S and design the Rights Retention Strategy. What does that mean for researchers in Hong Kong?
Archiving academic papers in an institutional or subject repository is a major way to make your works openly accessible. In this increasingly open research environment, it is important for academic authors to know how to do self-archiving properly.
Green and Gold OA
Open Access (OA) is the practice to make scholarly literature freely accessible online. Two major routes to make your work OA are Gold and Green. With Gold OA, your work is immediately accessible at the publisher’s website once it is published. Often you have to pay a fee, called APC, to the publisher to make this happen.
However, you can follow the Green OA path which does not carry a heavy price tag. Many publishers allow authors to put a version of the work in an OA repository at a certain time. This is where things can be a little more complex than it seems.
This post helps you clarify your decision points when you make your work Green OA. This is becoming more important for researchers, because many research funders and institutions have specific requirements on OA archiving and publishing. Those do not yet have such requirements will likely do so in the future while the global research community advocates for open scholarship.
What: the Versions
Which version of your published work can be self-archived without copyright issue? Publishers have different policies. Seldom do they let authors archive the final, published version (also called version of record). It is more common that authors can use the submitted version (also called preprint or author’s original), and the accepted version (also called postprint or accepted manuscript). See this post about different versions of your work in a publishing process.
Where: the Repositories
Where should you deposit your work? There are two types of OA repositories: institutional and subject. At HKUST, the Library maintains our institutional repository called SPD.
For subject repositories, many of them are preprint archives. Popular ones include:
Many researchers put their work at personal websites or social network sites such as Academia.edu or ResearchGate. This is NOT a recommended practice for Green OA. Trustworthy repositories keep your work safe with long-term commitment, make them findable by search engines and consistently retrievable. For example, in SPD, the HKUST repository, your work is assigned a unique, persistent identifier. SPD uses standard metadata schema so that your work is easily discoverable by search engines.
If a research funder requires you to deposit research output in a repository, you should pay attention to whether the funder specifies ones that you should use. For example, National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US requires its grantees to use PubMed Central.
When: Embargo Period
Some publishers require authors NOT to release the self-archived copy for OA within a certain period after publication. This period is called “embargo”, which may be 6 months, 12 months or even longer. If you have to comply with requirements of your funder or institution, you should check if there is any conflict with embargo period. For example, the National Science Foundation in the US requires grantees to archive a published work as early as possible, but permits an embargo of 12 months; while Wellcome Trust in the UK recommends archiving when accepted for publication, but accepts an embargo of 6 months.
Some universities, Nanyang Technological University is an example, require affiliated work to be deposited in the institutional repository as early as the time of acceptance to publication; but they may allow access to be open at a later time.
Some Informative Links
How you choose to make your work OA depends on the culture of your field, your preference, and policies of with which you have to comply. These directories can help you find out more about OA policies and repositories:
How do you communicate your research to peers and other scholars? How accessible are your research papers? Are they available only to readers who subscribe to the journals you publish in?
What is Open Access?
Open Access (OA) is the free-of-charge, immediate, online availability of research output combined with the rights to use the output. Research output typically means journal articles, but it can also include working papers, conference papers, books, dissertations, research data and other research artifacts. The keys that make OA possible is the digital means to host the output on the Internet for access, and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.
Research is advanced through wide sharing of results; only then the investment in research can be maximized. While much research is fueled by government funding or agencies for the public good, the results are often published in articles hidden behind publishers’ paywall. With the effort of OA advocates, increasing number of universities and funding agencies set up policies that encourage or mandate open access of research publications. In Hong Kong, RGC requires PC/PI to make the final publications openly accessible immediately or no later than 12 months after publication (see paragraph 35 of Disbursement, Accounting and Monitoring Arrangements July 2015); while HKBU has an open access policy for their researchers.
How to make something OA?
If we talk about articles, on which most of the OA discussion focuses on, there are two major ways for open access:
Self-archiving at a site controlled by the authors or institutions
HKUST researchers can archive their work at the HKUST Institutional Repository (IR) created and managed by the Library. If the work is published or to be published in a journal, depending on the terms on the copyright transfer agreement that the authors sign, the authors may have the rights to archive the pre-print version, accepted manuscript or the published version of the work in the IR. The self-archiving method is sometimes called “green OA”.
Open access journals
Many publishers provide open access options for authors to make their work immediately available to all readers. Usually authors choosing such options are required to pay article processing charge (APC), which can vary from around USD1,000 to 5,000 per article. Some journals are fully open access, while some are “hybrid”, meaning that in the same journal some papers are openly accessible and some are subscription-based. Making a paper OA by paying APC is sometimes labelled as “gold OA”.
Considerations when you publish
Be aware of your copyrights and your obligations to the funders
Observe your funder’s OA policies. If you are required to make your papers OA either immediately or after an embargo period (e.g. 12 months) after publication, you should make sure you retain such rights when signing the copyright agreement with publishers.
Send a copy of your work to the HKUST Institutional Repository
Many publishers allow authors to self-archive a version of the paper in an open access repository. Check the terms on the copyright agreement or the publisher’s website. If you have any doubt, ask a librarian.