Thing 16 – Open Access and Surrey Research Insight

In the last few Things, we looked at alternative ways of sharing your research online and measuring the impact from it. In order to give your research proper academic credibility, it is important to provide readers with links to peer-reviewed, published articles. However, this presents the reader with a problem: Access.

(If your research is not yet published, there is also the problem of copyright, which we will talk about next.)

Open Access

Traditionally, research is written up into articles, which are submitted to a publisher; peer reviewed, and then published in an academic journal. Institutions must pay both to submit the article, and to buy the access to the article (called a journal subscription).

This limits the availability of academic papers to subscribing institutions, journal members, and one-off fee-payers.

Open Access is about making research papers freely available to anyone who is interested.

From Surrey Research Insight’s pages on Open Access:

Open Access Basics

Open Access (OA) means making research publications freely available online.

There are no password or subscription barriers so your research is free to be downloaded and read by a global audience.

Open access and visibility

Open access papers are highly visible and immediately available. They are highly downloaded from a large number of countries. Downloads from SRI Open Access, the University’s open access repository, have recently passed the 2 million mark. Researchers, practitioners and the wider public from over 200 countries access SRI Open Access papers every day.

High downloads, in turn, are linked to higher citations and thus higher impact.

Open access routes

There are two main routes to open access: Green and Gold.

Green Gold
How Your author’s version is posted in SRI Open Access. You don’t pay the publisher. You make a one-off payment to the publisher.
What Author’s version. Publisher’s version.
When Immediately or after an embargo period depending on the publisher’s policy. Immediately upon publication.
Where SRI Open Access repository Publisher’s website, plus:

  • SRI Open Access
  • Funder’s repository
Copyright Copyright usually belongs to the publisher. Usually published under a Creative  Commons (CC) licence. This sets the terms for re-use.

Most subscription journals offer a Green option, and many also offer Gold. Purely open access journals, like PLOS, offer the Gold option only.

Open Access to research is encouraged by funding bodies, who all have relevant policy to support it.

Despite this, Open Access is not yet widely adopted as researchers are slow to let go of the traditional system, and publishers are slow to let go of their rights and subscriptions. The debate around Open Access is widely and vehemently discussed online.


If you have already published a paper through a journal, is it available through open access? Use the Surrey Research Insight Open Access database to check. If your publication isn’t there, it might still be possible to provide Open Access to the research. Use the Sherpa/Romeo database to check the policies of the journal, and consult the Surrey Research Insight team to find out how to proceed.


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