A Quick Guide to Open Access for Researchers

The emergence of open access has changed the scholarly publishing landscape, making research more broadly accessible to academic and non-academic audiences alike. As open access continues to evolve, researchers are now presented with new decision criteria for selecting a journal for research dissemination. This guide serves as an introduction to open access for researchers and also highlights the options researchers now have if they wish to make their work open access.

What is Open Access?
Why is Open Access Important?
What is My Funding Agency's Requirement for Open Access? 
What are My Options for Making My Article Open Access? 
What About Copyright and User Licenses?
How Do I Deposit My Work in a Central or Institutional Repository?
How Do I Select an Open Access Journal?
What is a Predatory Publisher and How Do I Avoid Them?
What is an Article Processing Charge?
How Do I Pay for Open Access?
What is CSP Doing About Open Access?

What is Open Access?

Open access is the practice of providing free and unrestricted online access to the products of research (www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/NSERC-CRSNG/policies-politiques/OpenAccessFAQ-LibreAccesFAQ_eng.asp).

Generally, open access advocates for unrestricted online access to published, peer-reviewed research. Research that is made open access is made available for free in perpetuity and includes guidelines and/or licenses that communicate how readers can share and re-use the content. There are two main types of open access, often termed green and gold.

GREEN: Researchers deposit (self-archive) their peer-reviewed journal article in a central or institutional open access repository.
   GOLD: Researchers submit their manuscript to a journal that offers free access to articles on its website
  • The repository allows for free public access to the accepted author manuscript or version of record.
  • No fee is paid.
  • An embargo period may apply.
  • Authors retain rights to certain uses of their articles.

  • Authors pay an article processing fee to make the final published version free to read on the publisher’s website.
  • Free public access to the final peer reviewed published article.
  • Access is immediate and permanent. (In some cases, journal publishers may delay open access for a defined period of time. Delayed Access (DA) is often considered a delay of more than six months. DA may be applied to both gold and green open access.)
  • Fee is paid by the author, or by their institution or funding body.
  • Reuse is determined by a user license – in most cases CC BY.

Why Open Access Important?

Open access is important to researchers for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. An openly accessible article can be widely read and shared so that more people can benefit from scholarship. This allows for the potential of academic research to have a greater impact on the world.
  2. Communication of the results of research is an essential component of the research process; research can only advance by sharing the results, and the value of an investment in research is only maximized through wide use of its results.
  3. If your funding body or institution has a policy on public access to research and reuse, you must both understand and comply with that policy. In some cases it may affect how your research is evaluated or your ability to attract research funding in the future.

What is My Funding Agency's Requirement for Open Access? 

Most major funding agencies' open access requirements are as follows:
  • Researchers submit their manuscript to a journal that offers open access to articles on its website, either immediately or within 12 months; and (or)
  • Researchers deposit their peer-reviewed journal article in a central or institutional repository, where it will be made freely available within 12 months of publication.
Canadian funding agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC), have recently adopted a new policy that “requires federally funded peer-reviewed journal publications to be made freely available within 12 months of publication...”

This requirement (like that of most funders around the world) can be met by doing one of the following: 
  • Grant recipients archive the final peer-reviewed full-text manuscript in an online repository where it will be freely accessible within 12 months (e.g., an institutional repository or a discipline-based repository). It is the responsibility of the grant recipient to determine which publishers allow authors to retain copyright and/or allow authors to archive journal publications in accordance with funding agency policies.
  • Grant recipients can publish in a journal that offers immediate open access or that offers open access on its website within 12 months.
NOTE: The two options above are not mutually exclusive. Researchers are strongly encouraged by the Tri-Agency funders to deposit a copy of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript into an accessible online repository immediately upon publication, even if the article is freely available through the journal’s website. 

Additional Resources:

FAQs regarding the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy 
Open Access Toolbox from Science.gc.ca
Links to major funding agency policies around the world

What are My Options for Making My Article Open Access? 

  1. Deposit your peer reviewed manuscript in a trusted open access repository. 
  2. Publish your work in a subscription journal that offers open access to authors who wish to pay a fee for that option. 
  3. Select a reputable open access journal for publication of your research.

NOTE: Peer review is an essential component of open access publishing. When selecting an open access journal make sure that the journal also employs rigorous peer review of research articles.

It's all about Choice!

What About Copyright and User Licenses?

Many funders require that open access works are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. This license is also most commonly used by publishers that offer open access publishing options. Under the CC BY license, authors retain copyright for their article, and authors give license for users to download, reuse, reprint, modify, distribute, and/or copy articles, as long as the original author is credited and the source is cited. No permission is required from the author or the publisher. Creative Commons has several licensing options that include further restrictions beyond CC BY. CC BY is considered the most liberal, affording the widest possible distribution of an author’s work.

When selecting an open access journal, inquire about author rights and user licenses. Open access advocates for authors maintaining ownership of their work and liberal re-use rights for users. 

The user license of an article determines how readers can share and use your article without the need to request permission. Before publishing open access, we recommend that authors:

  • Understand what each user license permits and the usage rights it grants to readers.
  • Check if your funding body or institution requires the use of a specific license in their policy (we have compiled a list of funding agencies and their open access policies here).
  • Visit the Creative Commons site to learn more about the various licenses. 

How Do I Deposit My Work in a Central or Institutional Repository?

Academic open access repositories are digital collections of the research outputs either within a university or research institute or within a field of study.

Depositing your accepted manuscript in an openly accessible digital repository is a widely accepted best practice. Before selecting a journal publisher, review their open access policy to determine if they allow self-archiving of accepted manuscript. To deposit your manuscript in a repository: 

  1. Contact your librarian for instructions on how to deposit in your institutional repository or visit the Canadian Association of Research Libraries for a list of Institutional Repositories in Canada.
  2. If appropriate, deposit your work in a subject-based open access repository such as PubMed Central (see Instructions on how to deposit your work in PubMed Central) or find a subject-based open access repository that is suitable for your work. The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) lists more than 250 subject-based open access repositories and more than 2,300 institutional open access repositories.

How Do I Select an Open Access Journal?

To comply with open access policies, it is important that you are aware of the open access options provided by your chosen journal. Before selecting an open access journal, we suggest that you: 
  • Read the journals’ Instructions to Authors and look for both gold and green open access options. 
  • Check for any funding body or institutional agreements with your publisher of choice, which will make compliance easier.       
  • Ask an academic librarian to verify the reputation of the publisher and for open access information and links.
  • Check the journal's peer review policy to ensure that rigorous peer review is standard for all research articles.

What is a Predatory Publisher and How Do I Avoid Them?

Predatory publishers exploit the open access publishing model for their own profit.  In some cases, predatory journals offer little or no peer review.  

Always check if your chosen journal is reputable: 

  • Look through the editorial board for established and known editors. 
  • View recent publications in the journal.      
  • Check for societies affiliated with the journal.

Learn more about this issue:

What is an Article Processing Charge?

An article processing charge (APC), also known as a publication fee, is a fee which is sometimes charged to authors in order to publish an article in an academic journal. It is common in open access journals. Some subscription journals charge publication fees and others will offer an option to pay a fee to make your article open access. 

How Do I Pay for My Open Access Publication?

Your funding body or institution may have funds available for open access publishing costs. Some funding bodies may require that researchers use their grant funds to cover any open access APCs.  

Check with your librarian to find out if your institution has agreements in place or funds to cover open access publication (commonly known as an Author Fund).

In some cases, APCs may be waived. Check the journal website for information about this.

What is CSP Doing About Open Access?

At CSP we’re openly engaged in the dialogue with our editors, authors, readers and customers. We are working diligently to explore open access publishing options with two new open access journals, FACETS and Arctic Science, and a collection of solutions for authors who wish to publish their research in our subscription journals and still meet their funder’s open access requirements.

At CSP, our goal is to respond, swiftly and systematically, to the needs of our authors and researchers. We believe that open access is about choice. With this in mind, we’ve launched a hub called CSP Open to highlight our open access products and services. Each of our products is designed to directly correspond to the three main options you have, as a researcher, for making your publication open access.
  • Publishing your research as open access in one of our fully open access journals, Arctic Science or FACETS (an APC is applied). 
  • Publish in the journal of your choice by using CSP’s OpenArticle service to purchase open access in any of CSP’s NRC Research Press subscription-based journals (an APC is applied). 
  • Publish in the journal of your choice and deposit your accepted manuscript in an open access repository (no fees or APC applied). For your convenience CSP has developed a partnership with TSpace, the University of Toronto Libraries’ open access repository. Interested authors can now, free of charge, have CSP automatically deposit their accepted manuscript in TSpace. 
For more information on open access at CSP, please visit CSPOpen.com and sign up for CSP’s open access newsletter.