Versus Arthritis Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis
University of Nottingham

Open Access: General Guidance

The term open access (OA) is now widely used in at least two senses.  

  • For some, OA literature is digital, online, and free of charge.  It removes price barriers, such as subscription fees, pay per view, but not permission barriers, such as copyright and licencing restrictions.  (Green Access). 
  • For others, OA literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of unnecessary copyright and licensing restrictions.  It removes both price barriers and permission barriers (Gold Access).    (Peter Suber, Berkman Center for Internet and Society)

Journal Types – Open Access

There are generally two types of journals: 

  1. Hybrid Journals – A subscription journal in which some of the articles are open access. In general these journals will allow Green Open Access at no cost and Gold Open Access at a cost. 
  2. Open Access journals – All articles are made instantly available (Gold Open Access) but this generally comes at a cost e.g. BMJ Open

Before submitting please be sure that you understand the costs that may be associated with publishing with a given journal.

Levels of Open Access

Green Open Access:  

The peer review process of publishing a paper with a subscription journal remains the same, but a version of the paper is freely available through an open access repository e.g. a university repository.  The price barrier is generally removed as many of the journals costs are covered by the subscription fees, often paid by the institution.  This is not true in all cases.

Permission Barriers

Some journals request the transfer of copyright from the author to the journal.  

Other journals do not ask authors to assign their copyright to the journal, instead they require an exclusive licence (e.g. CC-BY*) which allows the journal to publish the article and allows authors to retain the rights to reuse their article for a wide range of purposes without seeking the journals permission

Whilst permissions vary across journals below are some general permissions with Green Access

  • You can link to your article.  For example, put a link to the journal on your webpage so that only subscribers of the journal can then see the final version of the paper.
  • Certain journals have open archives to which the general public have access to.  Papers normally appear on here after an embargo period - this is managed by the journal.
  • You can self-archive a version of your paper.  The journal will dictate which version/format of your article you can archive.  For example, you might be able to archive a version that does not have the journal branding on it.

Journals have different policies about archiving you must use Sherpa Romeo to check a publisher's self-archiving permissions/policy.

Funders also have different policies re archving you should use Sherpa Juliet to check funding policy.

Gold Open Access: 

Applies to open access journals or hybrid journals and involves a fee being paid.  Fees vary across journals. 

If you pay for Gold access:

  • The author generally retains copyright
  • Articles should be published under a Creative Commons Attribution-only (CC-BY) licence 
  • Your journal article is openly available on the journals website as soon as it is published
  • You can also add a final version of the paper to a University Repository.  

If submitting to an Open Access Journal please note that the Gold Access fee is expected and this can be costly.  Consider the value of submitting to this specific journal and whether there are funds available to pay this fee or whether submitting a journal that allows Green Access might be a better option.

Cost of Open Access

Prices vary across journals.  Prices can also vary if an institution has membership with a specific journal; this membership may facilitate a reduction in the APC cost for its academic staff and PhD students.

NB:  Please check with your local institution as to whether any of these discounts apply to you.  A code will be provided to you to enable payment at this reduced rate. E.g. Nottingham has membership with BMJ Group Journals: 25% discount on APCs in all BMJ Group open access or hybrid journals

What are the benefits of Open Access?

Open access enables your fellow researchers to access this full text subscription free.  

Other benefits:

  • increased visibility of publications; 
  • faster dissemination of research;
  • research made available to the general public;
  • Compliance with funder requirements.
*This license lets other distribute and build upon your work as long as they credit the author for the orginial creation.  Recommended license to enable maximum dissemination.

Translational Agreements