So, what about the practical aspects of Open Access and making work available. A common misunderstanding is the difference between sharing something openly and sharing something via Open Access. Many researchers will share versions of their work online via departmental webpages or sites such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu but just because they are available does not make them Open Access. This is particularly important when it comes to outputs which are eligible for REF assessment as certain criteria need to be followed.
If there are valid reasons why a manuscript cannot be shared it should still be uploaded within the time frame and placed under an embargo. This means that the record for the material is openly available but the actual content is still restricted. This will satisfy most funders Open Access requirements but anyone who is unsure should consult the funder or the Open Access team directly for clarification.
As discussed earlier, there are two major routes for researchers wanting to make their work available Open Access: green and gold.
Researchers should carefully check which option(s) are available to them as these vary according to both funder mandates and the policy of the title they want to publish with.
The Open Access landscape is large and complicated and it is impossible to cover every possible scenario in one resource. A helpful source of information is the SHERPA RoMEO database which offers easy to understand summaries of Open Access policies for a number of funders. Although this provides an excellent starting point it is always best to consult the individual funder website for clarification.
Below is a very brief summary of the major UK Open Access policies which librarians advising researchers can expect to come across. This summary was written in July 2019 and learners should remember that this is a fast moving landscape where policies change every day. It is always best to check with the funder directly for the latest policy documentation and use the following summary as an example only.
Peer reviewed research articles which acknowledge funding from any of the UK Research Councils should be either be published Open Access or have a copy deposited in an Open Access repository under an embargo. The length of this embargo varies according to discipline - arts, humanities and social sciences can place an embargo of 12 - 24 months and science, technology, engineering and medical outputs should have an embargo of 6 - 12 months. Any open outputs should be released under an open licence, ideally CC-BY.
The Wellcome Trust is one of the largest funders of medical in health research both in the UK and globally and were one of the first to declare their support for Open Access publishing. They currently mandate that any articles they fund (in whole or part) published in peer reviewed journals should be made available via PubMed Central or Europe PMC within six months of publication. This policy also extends to books and individual chapters which should be shared via PMC Bookshelf or Europe PMC within the same time frame. When Wellcome pay the fee for Open Access publication of article they require a CC-BY licence attached to promote reuse and this is also the preferred option for books/chapters.
The Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) is a partnership between six of the biggest medical research funders including the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK. Many research institutions receive a grant from COAF to cover any gold Open Access costs and where this is used the final version of the output must be deposited in PubMed Central and made available with no embargo. This should be licensed under a CC-BY licence. If researchers take the green route then they should check the rules of the title they are publishing in and deposit the author accepted manuscript within Europe PMC with a maximum six month embargo.
Even for these three funding organisations learners can start to see both the similarities and subtle differences that confuse researchers. The best thing librarians can do is to keep up to date with any changes for the funders they support, something which is usually shared via websites and the social media presence of the funding organisation.