University of Leeds celebrates Open Access week

Research and innovation

Deirdre Andre is a Research Support Adviser based at the University of Leeds Library. She leads LUCID, the Library’s fee-based literature searching service, and has an advocacy role in raising awareness of the White Rose University Press (WRUP).

Photograph of the Edward Boyle library

International Open Access week (24-30 October 2016) is an annual event that celebrates and promotes the benefits of Open Access (OA). This is the practice of making research publications freely available online for anyone to find and read, with limited or no restrictions on how the publications can be re-used.

In celebration of OA week, an event entitled Open Access in Action took place on 25 October in the new Research Hub on level 13 of the refurbished Edward Boyle Library. The latest developments and issues in the OA landscape were discussed from a range of different perspectives.

Growth of OA publishing

Dr Stella Butler, University Librarian, traced the changes in how published material is accessed. She noted that over the last fifteen years, there has been a shift from a “pay to read” model, where research outputs are behind “access tolls”, to one where authors deposit material in OA institutional repositories (green OA) and a “pay to publish” model (gold OA) where articles are made freely available following payment of an article processing charge.

Richard Bennett, Commercial Director of Hindawi Publishing, highlighted the massive expansion in OA publishing in the last ten years. He noted that traditional academic publishers are becoming increasingly involved in OA publishing, illustrated by the growth of Open Access articles in subscription journals (so called hybrid publishing). He also highlighted that while the UK, US and China are all increasing their output of Open Access articles, the drivers of this growth remain diverse; from mandates in the UK, secure funding of APC’s in China, and visibility and re-use in the US.

Tom Grady, Acting Press Manager for the White Rose University Press (WRUP), promoted the new press which was launched at the start of 2016. The press is run jointly by the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York and is a fully open access academic publisher. Under the supervision of an editorial board of distinguished academics it is dedicated to supporting innovation in OA book and journal publishing and the team is always happy to discuss proposals.

Advantages of OA

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research & Innovation, outlined the advantages of OA publishing. She argued that OA has the potential to maximise the reach of our research, increasing the exposure and use of our research. She commented that small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) may benefit from open access to our research that could subsequently lead to innovation; equally our research may be used in evidence-based policy decisions. She also remarked that open access enables researchers to increase their exposure internationally, as well as giving developing countries access to high quality research.

Professor Helen Gleeson, School of Physics and Astronomy, shared her experience of the benefits of OA publishing for academic career development. She noted that publishing open access tends to result in articles being read more quickly. She remarked that academics working in the same field “will have increased awareness of what you have published and will be more likely to cite you”. She argued that promotion and professional awards panels are interested in metrics and are looking for evidence of researchers’ impact on the international scene. 

On a practical note, Professor Malcolm Heath, Professor of Greek Language and Literature from the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, argued that in order for a researcher to publish research, they need to consume research. Making research freely available to everyone will produce a more efficient knowledge ecology by removing access barriers.

How mandates are driving OA

Professor Roberts argued that mandates from bodies such as the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and research funders are a major driver to ensure our outputs are open access. She noted that Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Charities Open Access Fund (COAF) have strengthened their mandates – research outputs produced as part of their funded projects must be open access. She also highlighted the HEFCE OA policy for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF), which requires that to be eligible for REF submission, all newly accepted journal articles and conference papers must be deposited in an OA repository (for us, deposit is made via Symplectic and the manuscript held in White Rose Research Online).

Professor Roberts stressed the importance of ensuring that all University of Leeds research outputs are compliant with the HEFCE policy for the next REF. She noted that it would be a “major blow” to the University in terms of funding and position in research league tables if non-compliance with the OA policy leads to research being ineligible for submission. She stressed the importance of depositing all research outputs to the institutional repository irrespective of whether or not they may be submitted to the REF. They may end up forming the basis of an impact case study for which credit can be gained. She also stated that there may be a requirement in the REF for the University to report the overall percentage of its publications that are open access. But overall, making our research available to others is good, collegiate academic practice.

Depositing research outputs – making it easier

Professor Helen Gleeson remarked that the process of depositing research outputs to the University publications database (Symplectic) can take as little as five minutes per article. She noted that there was a large amount of support available from Library staff to deal with more complex issues in relation to copyright, article processing charges and embargoes.

Aimee Nixon of Emerald Group Publishing explained that many publishers are trying to make it easier for authors to submit to repositories. For example, when Emerald informs authors that their publication has been accepted, they now include a copy of the author accepted manuscript which the author can deposit in the institutional repository.

Leeds University Business School

Leeds University Business School is committed to making its research outputs available via open access.

The School’s academic staff publish in a range of subject areas including accounting, finance, economics, marketing, psychology, logistics, international business, work and employment relations and information management.

Since April 2016 all research articles accepted for publication in academic journals are deposited in our institutional repository, White Rose Research Online, and can be accessed by the public, subject to publishers’ embargoes.

In the last 12 months, the Business School has seen a 71% increase in the number of articles downloaded compared with the same preceding period.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the views of Leeds University Business School or the University of Leeds.