Leeds University Library

What is open access?

Open access publishing makes peer-reviewed scholarly works available online, free for anyone to find and read, with only limited restrictions on how the works can be reused.

Making the results of research freely available through repositories and journal websites can have significant advantages for individual authors, for researchers, for institutions and for the process of research generally by freeing up the process of dissemination.

This means that the potential readership of open access articles is far greater than that for articles where the full-text is restricted to subscribers.

What open access is not

Open access does not affect peer-review; articles are peer-reviewed and published in journals in the normal way. Open access repositories supplement and do not replace journals. There is no suggestion that authors should use repositories instead of journals.

Some authors fear that wider availability will increase plagiarism. In fact, when material is freely available, the chance that plagiarism is recognised and exposed is higher.

Why are funders insisting on open access?

Funders realise that making material open access increases the readership of articles and other work, the speed of dissemination and the use of research.

Many funders recognise that the results of research should reach the widest audience. Most research is publicly funded and yet the general public cannot get access to the results that they have paid for with their taxes.

Many funding bodies, including the RCUK and Wellcome Trust, have policies that require open access for their funded research.

Why not just use the current system?

The Library pays large subscriptions so that our researchers can easily access journal papers online. Journal price rises over the last decade mean that we can no longer afford subscriptions to all of the journals that researchers need.

Price rises that are many times the rate of inflation continue to be imposed each year, further restricting access to journal articles.

The situation is even worse in the developing world, where journal subscription prices mean that many institutions cannot afford access to up-to-date research.