Making your research accessible

Open Access: What’s that about?

By 15/01/2013

For those of you who are new to Open Access or would like understand it further Research to Action has put together a list of useful places on the web where you can find out more. Below are some guides, platforms and articles which will provide you the low down and keep you up to date with the latest  on Open Access.

Some definitions to start:

Open Access (OA) is the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles. OA is also increasingly being provided to theses, scholarly monographs and book chapters.

Open Data is the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyrightpatents or other mechanisms of control. The goals of the open data movement are similar to those of other “Open” movements such as open sourceopen content, and open access.


Events and projects:

1. Open Access Week

Open Access Week, a global event now entering its sixth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research. [more]




2. PERii by INASP

PERii is the second five-year phase of INASP’s Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information.Publication of the latest research information is vital. The Journals Online (JOL) projects offer the opportunity and a platform for editors in developing countries to publish their journals online. Over 80% of the content available on the JOLs is freely available in full-text. [more]



SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system. Developed by the Association of Research Libraries, SPARC has become a catalyst for change. [more]



4. Open Knowledge Repository

The World Bank is the largest single source of development knowledge. The World Bank Open Knowledge Repository (OKR) is The World Bank’s official open access repository for its research outputs and knowledge products. [more]




General Websites and platforms and useful information: 


5. Benefits of Open Access to Scholarly Research Outputs to the Public Sector 

The objective of this project was to synthesise and generate evidence on the benefits that Open Access to scholarly research outputs has generated to the public sector, and to provide case studies of organisations that have realised such benefits. [more]




6. Free and open access links

This page provides links to: programmes and initiatives complementary toPERii; the INASP Directory of Organisations; Open Access resources available to all; and online resources that are freely available to researchers in developing and emerging countries. [more]




7. Open Access Overview

This is an introduction to open access (OA). I hope it’s short enough to read, long enough to be useful, and organized to let you skip around and dive into detail only where you want detail. It doesn’t cover every nuance or answer every objection. But for those who read it, it should cover enough territory to prevent the misunderstandings that delayed progress in our early days. [more]




8. What is Open Data? Open Data Institute

Open data is information that is available for anyone to use, for any purpose, at no cost. Open data has to have a licence that says it is open data. Without a licence, the data can’t be reused. [more]





9. Open Access: One small step or one giant leap

The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) recently announced the welcome news that all publically-funded development research is to become freely available.  As the recent ‘Academic Spring’ debate attests, this is good news for most, not least of all southern researchers who rank accessing research high up a long list of problems they face when trying to engage with the wider development community. [more]



10. Out of Africa: non-academics need more Open Access awareness 

Open Access offers Africa a lot of potential. But we work in higher education where we perhaps take for granted the abounding information and awareness campaigns about what open access is and how we should work with it. [more]




News and articles:


11. Do Open  Access articles have a greater research impact?

Although many authors believe that their work has a greater research impact if it is freely available, studies to demonstrate that impact are few. This study looks at articles in four disciplines at varying stages of adoption of open access—philosophy, political science, electrical and electronic engineering and mathematics. [more]




12. Digital publishing: A great opportunity for science

There are still scholars who think that digital publishing and open access are seriously harming science. [more]





13. Online academic material has costs too

Increasingly, I see this belief: online materials should be free, particularly when those materials are educational. A recent study by Bowker Market Research indicated that 48% of UK students using ebooks were likely to acquire them free, accessing them through their library or via filesharing [more]




Good science should have no boundaries. That was the strong message from Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European commissioner for research, last month at the Berlin 10 Open Access Conference at Stellenbosch University. [more]





Example of  Open Access online:

15. BioMedCentral

BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher of 243 open access, online, peer-reviewed journals. [more]





6 Responses to Open Access: What’s that about?

  1. Avatar David Came says:

    Open access and open data are going to be difficult to achieve with many vested interests getting in the way. I wish you well and hope you overcome all resistance

  2. Avatar Silvia says:

    I was having a conversation with a Professor friend of mine about publishing in Open Access Journals. He agrees with the concept of making information available for free, so he decided to publish his results with PLoS. He had a few observations on the process:

    1. The cost of publishing is too high for senior researchers, and of course it almost prohibitive for junior ones. PLoS charges a differentiate fee for publishing according to subject and country of origin, but still too expensive.

    2. He thought that PLoS was making money with prices – since it is a publicly funded institution and because, in his view, they did not provide the type of editorial and quality assurance support that would represent costs to them.

    3. He did not feel that there was enough scrutiny and rigour in the review process.

    I was not able to address his comments and concerns as I am not sure about the costs or business models behind PLoS and I hoping that is something that is considered when advising researchers to publish in Open Access journals.

    Comments and resources are welcome.


    • Avatar David Knutson says:


      I am sorry your professor feels that way.

      But what people forget about PLOS is that we are in a unique position as a publisher, an Open Access advocate and industry innovator. These three equally important endeavors enable us to successfully leverage our mission of leading a transformation in research communication. In short, our fees further our mission as a publisher and as an organization that is lowering barriers to publication. Please check out our Global Participation Initiative that lowers
      barriers to publication based on cost.

      To provide open access, PLOS journals use a model in which our expenses — including those of peer review management, journal production, and online hosting and archiving — are recovered in part by charging a publication fee to the author for each article they publish.
      Furthermore, our prices have not been raised since August 2009. In addition, PLOS ONE is on the lower end of the scale in terms of Article Processing Charges. PLOS ONE is both high quality and low price and falls in the right place in terms of value:

      Please feel free to call me if you want to discuss the rogors of our peer review. My name is Dave Knutson and I am with PLOS. You can reach me at 651-260-8288

      • Avatar Silvia says:


        Many thanks for taking the time to answer and address my comments and for reaching out. I am an ardent proponent of alternative publishing models and your info would give me more info to explain when questions arise.

        I have shared your comments and details with my friend – inviting him to contact you to discuss the review process. He is better placed to explain his experience and expectations.