Written by Emma Guest, Site and Research Engagement Librarian, National Oceanography Library, University of Southampton


The best part of our job is talking to our research community. We get to do this throughout the year but for Open Access Week 2019 I led an additional session at the National Oceanographic Library on making the most of Open Access publishing.

Some attendees are new to Open Access and there is a lot to digest and take in during the session. Our focus is on journal articles and conference proceedings, mentioning monographs, book chapters and theses as appropriate to the attendees. We encourage questions and use these to continually update the course to make sure it is relevant and provides value every time it is delivered. For example, during the session the question came up:

How does open access relate to open science?

Open Access (OA) refers to free, unrestricted online access of research outputs (most commonly journal articles and conference proceedings) by anyone with an internet connection. Open Science, or Open Research as our preferred term that is inclusive of all disciplines, is broader. Open Research involves openness throughout the research cycle, from working collaboratively and sharing methodologies, to making software and code openly available and ensuring that research data is openly available and reusable.

Another question asked during the session is:

How do preprint servers (arXiv etc.) fit into the open access process?

Preprint servers such as arXiv (pronounced ‘archive’) widen the pool of open access material as they offer access to new papers that have not yet been peer reviewed or published in a journal. As many of you will know, submitting a paper to a journal, awaiting peer review and revision rounds, acceptance of the paper and final publication can be a lengthy process. Preprints enable early sharing of exciting new research developments, allow authors to timestamp their work, and have other benefits as explained in this piece from the publisher PLOS.

There are different versions of a paper you can put in to a repository. A preprint complements the accepted manuscript found in institutional repositories. Preprint is a version that has not gone through peer review. Whereas the accepted manuscript will have been peer reviewed but will not have any publisher formatting, logo or pagination. I hope all attendees leave the session knowing the importance of the accepted version. The version of record is the published version, which will be available from the publishers’ website, and will have been through typesetting and copyediting.

During the session we talk about how to find open access repository versions of journal articles that are otherwise locked behind subscription paywalls. You can find legal copies of articles by using tools such Unpaywall, Open Access Button or CORE Discovery. These tools enable researchers to instantly find articles from publisher websites and subject/institutional repositories that are accessible as either publisher (gold) or repository (green) open access. During the session, I had a comment:

I knew about Sci-Hub but it’s great to know about Unpaywall and Open Access Button.

Sci_Hub is not a resource we promote. Many of the articles accessed via SciHub breach publisher copyright which is why we work hard to promote the tools that do allow legal sharing of journal articles.

Getting the most out of open access publishing means getting the most out of research. By engaging with open access, academics can ensure that their research can help or inform as many people as possible by reaching as many people as possible. A Green open access version is just a version without typesetting and it is the content not the appearance that matters.

It is always great to get feedback on our sessions, and see what difference we are making so we ask attendees what they thought about the session:

Really useful to understand the REF2021 requirements!

Mostly I am going to use what I have learned when trying to publish.

Will use PURE and ePrints much more often.

Actually all of it was really useful. Each area covered was either new to me or good to be reminded of

Open Access Week 2019: Our research community

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