What is open access?
What is open access?
The open and free availability of research outputs to anyone at point of access. The Open Access movement is a response to a number of developments and challenges within the scholarly communication and open science landscape.
- Technology allows quicker and cheaper dissemination of research outputs
- Journal subscription costs are increasing and libraries are struggling to keep up
- Growing demand from research funders for taxpayers to be able to access the research they fund
Open access material is more frequently published as peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers, but can also include monographs, book chapters, theses and research data.
- Access is free of charge
- Free of most restrictions on use (though attribution is still a must)
- Defined by the Bethesda, Berlin and Budapest statements on open access publishing
Useful introductions to open access
Open access is broadly achieved through publishing models known as 'green' and 'gold'. These are outlined below.
Our information leaflet on open access provides a handy overview and a brief introduction to open access suppport services available from the Library.
Our roadmap to open access compliance is a simple step-by-step guide on what you need to do and how the Library can provide support. For a general introduction to open access
An excellent overview of open access is provided by expert Peter Suber. There is also an introductory video lecture introducing open access by Brunel and an 8 minute video introduction by phdcomics, which can be found at the bottom of this page.
Why choose and engage with open access?
Benefits for researchers
Open access helps researchers disseminate their outputs more widely, which in turn can maximise reach and impact.
Where research papers are more visible, they will potentially be downloaded and cited more, or at least will not be restricted by paywalls which limit access to research to subscribers. This increases the amount of accessible research and can help stimulate collaboration and the exchange of scholarly ideas.
Through open access, students and teaching staff have unrestricted access to research, regardless of economic status or institutional affiliation, providing the freedom to use and re-purpose research materials in new and interesting ways.
This also helps engagement of your output with the general public, enabling access to the research that their taxes fund and encouraging lifelong learning and giving businesses and other organisations access to research to encourage innovation in wider society.
Compliance with funder policies
Research funders are keen to encourage the recipients of their grants to make their outputs openly accessible. A number of policies have been announced in recent years that mandate open access for institutions and researchers who receive public funding.
Many funders’ policies, including UKRI, European Commission, Wellcome Trust, require papers to be made open access. Non-compliance may put future grant applications at risk. The University reports on compliance with UKRI open access policy for grant funded outputs as a condition of funding, and open access compliance is a key element of Research England's Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise.
Journal articles and conference proceedings must be available in an open access form to be eligible for the REF, and non-compliant outputs may be ineligible for submission.
There is a range of detailed information about funder expectations and information on support available from Library Services here.
Routes to Open Access
There are two main models by which you can disseminate your research as open access, 'Green' and 'Gold'. These are not mutually exclusive.
Green open access
"When you deposit a version of your paper into a repository..."
- Subject to journal embargo periods
- Available from a secondary source, such as
- Typically this is the Author Accepted Manuscript rather than the formatted publisher version deposited by authors themselves. For a clear definition on document versions, please see the information here.
Gold open access
"When you pay an Article Processing Charge (APC) to a publisher for immediate open access from the publisher's platform..."
- Available immediately upon publication
- Available from the publisher's website or platform
- No charge to access, read or download
- An Article Processing Charge (APC) may be levied on publication
- Typically made available under a Creative Commons licence.
Brunel's Open Access policy
Brunel's OA policy forms part of the The Research Integrity Code that was agreed by University Senate in 2014. This brings together all the University's research integrity policies in a single document. Policies, including Open Access, Research Data Management and Intellectual Property Rights appear in the appendices. The Code and the individual policies within it, can also be found on the University website.
The RI Code outlines the University's commitment to meeting the requirements of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Policy and Guidelines on the Governance of Good Research Conduct and the Universities UK (UUK) Concordat to support research integrity, with which Brunel must comply.
The University is required to monitor how it is implementing the Code and report annually to UUK and RCUK. Reports include details of research integrity training and support provided by all areas of the University to staff and students, on topics such as research data management, open access, copyright and plagiarism. Brunel may also be audited externally.