Open Access is simply making published research results freely available to anyone with an internet connection rather than keeping those results hidden behind a subscription paywall. The term open access was coined in 2002 as part of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.
The majority of scholarly journals are only available to people who pay a subscription or who are members of an institution who pays a subscription. Open Access uses digital technology to make research findings widely available. There are two ways to make work available: either by depositing a copy of their published work in a repository or by publishing in a journal that makes the work freely available immediately.
Why Open Access?
A large proportion of the research undertaken in the UK is supported by public funds. The researchers do the research and write up their work into journal articles, conference papers, books chapters or books. Once submitted for publication editors (other researchers) assess the work and send it out for peer review which is conducted by the academic community. Researchers do not receive payment or royalties for their published articles. In addition, the tasks of peer review and editing are considered to be part of the scholarly process and are undertaken without payment.
Once the work is published, institutional libraries (which are publicly funded) pay large amounts for subscriptions to journals. This means that people affiliated with these institutions can access the research but those without an affiliation cannot. Practitioners such as pharmacists, teachers, nurses, business people are unable to see the latest developments in their field.
How do we make work Open Access?
Making a copy of published work available in a subject-based or an institutional repository is referred to as ‘green’ Open Access. The Cambridge repository contains many thousands of open access items. You can deposit your work to the repository here. Examples of subject-based repositories include such as arXiv in the high energy physics and mathematics disciplines, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) and PubMed Central.