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Open Access

Open Access Terms explained

Academic outputs are available on an Open Access basis when they are freely available online to all users of the internet, and have clear re-use rights (allowing activities such as download for offline reading, text mining, and so on).

It's often difficult to read about Open Access without being confronted by jargon. Here's a quick guide to some of the terms you're likely to come across.

Gold Open Access outputs are those that are made available on an Open Access basis immediately upon first publication. This may or may not involve the payment of an "Article Processing Charge" (see below). With regards to journal articles, there are two main routes to making work available on a Gold Open Access basis:

  • Fully Gold journals are those whose entire contents are always available on an Open Access basis
  • Hybrid Gold journals are those which still operate on a "reader pays" subscription model, but on payment of an Article Processing Charge will make individual articles within them available on an Open Access basis. A great many titles from the major academic publishers now operate in this way.

The distinction between Fully Gold and Hybrid Gold Open Access is an important one that will influence where you submit your work. You should only submit papers to a Fully Gold journal if you have guaranteed access to funds to pay the article processing charge, should your paper be accepted for publication.

(also known as self-archiving)
Green Open Access outputs are those that are published in subscription-based access outlets, but then made available for free after an embargo period (determined by the publisher) in some form of online repository (see below). This is referred to as author self-archiving, as it is the authors of the papers who themselves deposit copies of their work in an online repository.

The nature of what can be self-archived varies between journals - usually only pre-prints or post-prints can be self-archived, though in some cases the publisher's own formatted version of the article can be self-archived (the SHERPA RoMEO database provides helpful guidance on individual journals' archiving policies).

Journals that allow the self-archiving of papers usually do so after an embargo period. This embargo period runs from the first publication of your article in that journal. This means that during the period of the embargo you cannot make the full text of your article available freely online. The embargo period will depend on both the journal and on who funded your work; for example, journals may allow a shorter embargo period depending on who funded the initial research on which the article reports.

You can self-archive your article in the Liverpool Elements immediately upon acceptance, but when you do so you can stipulate the date on which the embargo period ends. This means the information about your article is immediately available to all, but the full text will only become available once the embargo period has ended. If you don't know the embargo, leave this field blank and the library team will fill this in for you.

For the avoidance of doubt, embargo periods will have no effect on how soon your article is made available on the publisher's own website.

More information on what version of your article you may be able to self-archive are given below in the sections on pre-prints and post-prints.

This is the charge levied by some publishers of Gold Open Access publications to cover the costs of copyediting, journal management, web hosting, and so on, associated with academic publishing. These can range from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds.

These are structured web-accessible databases containing academic outputs; sometimes pre-prints, sometimes post-prints. They are the principal means by which readers can access Green Open Access outputs, and their structured data ensures that their contents rank highly in search engine results. There are a number of different types of repositories:

  • Institutional repositories such as the University of Liverpool Repository contain the academic outputs of authors at a particular university of other institution.
  • Subject repositories such as Cogprints allow the self-archiving of academic outputs in specific disciplines.
  • Funder repositories such as the NERC Online Research Archive (NORA) provide a service for the self-archiving of outputs arising from research funded by those organisations.

An author's own version of an article before it has undergone peer review and publication. These are most often found in subject repositories, such as the arXiv science repository.

An author's own version of an article incorporating all the changes and suggestions required by peer reviewers and editors, but not the publisher's own copy-edited and formatted version. Many publishers allow the self-archiving of the post-print version of an article, but not the publisher's "official" formatted version. These are also often referred to as "Author's Accepted Manuscripts".