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Why Should I Care About Open Access?

A recap of our first researcher-centric webinar

Event duration March 30, 2022
Event location Copenhagen

An Introduction to Open Access

On March 10, we launched our very first webinar that forms part of our new webinar series – a series tailored specifically to provide researchers with a-z insights into the world of Open Access (OA)!

Of course, you must walk before you can run. So, for our first webinar, we wanted to give our audience a chance to familiarize themselves with the concept of Open Access and the aspects that are essential to understanding what it’s all about. Because what is Open Access? And why should we even care about it?

Publisher Relations & Business Development Manager, Romy Beard, and Customer Care Specialist and researcher, Laura Davidson from ChronosHub, took the lead in this webinar, guiding the audience through an educational and interactive session with polls and questions from engaging viewers.

Our two hosts kicked off the webinar with a poll to see how much the audience actually knew about Open Access. And what do you know! 18% said they knew nothing, 50% claimed knew a little and would like to learn more, and 30% knew some but were confused. If you feel the same way about Open Access, read this brief summary and watch the recording that’ll give you an introduction to what Open Access entails.

An International Movement

To lay the foundation, Romy Beard took inspiration from the Dutch website, Here, Open Access is defined as a broad international movement where an OA publication is one where there are no financial, legal, or technical barriers to accessing the publication – as such, anyone can read, download, copy, distribute, and use it within the legal agreements.  

To put this into context, this session covered a variety of aspects. We walked through some of the specifics that separate a traditional subscription or paywall article from an article that’s been published OA. We saw the example of a closed article from the US-based publisher, Wiley, showing the technical and financial barriers that would require a subscription to gain access. Conversely, we saw an example of another article from the same publisher that was published OA where there were no restrictions – you could simply download the pdf freely as it would appear in a print version and save it to read later! Additionally, the concept of ‘archiving’ came into play – explained as an alternative option where a closed article in either a subscription or hybrid journal can be archived and made open. In brief, archiving allows you to archive the full text of your article in an institutional repository, and while it isn't the final pdf that’s available, you’ll still be able to share your article for people to read.

So, there are, in fact, different ways to make an article freely available to the public. Again, while the Open Access route allows you to make the final version freely accessible directly on the publisher’s website with no delays, archiving allows you to place the author accepted manuscript (AAM version) into an institutional or a subject repository. However, this usually includes an embargo period, i.e. a certain time slot you'd have to wait until the final version is live. 

Our two speakers also touched upon one of the fundamental components of Open Access, namely the cost associated with publishing OA, the so-called ‘article processing charge’ (APC) – a fee that the author pays to the publisher to make the article available OA. This covers elements such as running peer review, copy editing, and typesetting. We looked closer at the different journal types and how to tell which journals are Open Access – for instance, for so-called 'gold journals', Open Access is the only option whereas 'hybrid journals' comprise a mixture of closed and open journals which means the author typically has to make the choice; am I going to pay an APC and make it available for everyone to read, or do I choose not to pay but then have others pay to access it?

Surely, the webinar encouraged a lot of different questions from an engaging audience, spanning from what the difference is between publishing through a gold route vs. publishing in a gold OA journal, what predatory journals entail, how to tell the differences between article versions, and what the different licenses affiliated with OA publishing are.

Finally, we landed on the fundamental question – why do authors publish OA?

Romy Beard pointed to two fundamental reasons. The first is mandate – the author may be required to take the OA route based on, for instance, funder requirements, requirements put forward by an institutional policy, or a national strategy. Often, if an author is funded by public money, the research should also be made publicly available – and the funder may also require a certain license. The other reason is choice. The author may want to publish their work OA because it can contribute to wider readership and impact, more engagement and citations, and, ultimately, greater exposure.

The disadvantage of Open Access can be the cost. If you don’t have funding or if your institution doesn’t pay, it can be a struggle. And it can cause confusion which might cut authors off and they’ll choose closed access as the easiest solution. If you want to learn more about costs associated with OA publishing, i.e. APCs, you’re in luck – we’ve devoted an entire webinar just for this!

Sign up here and join us on March 31, 2022, at 3 p.m. CET.

In the meantime, have a look at the full recording of our first webinar below! 👇

Webinar Recording


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