ECRAG meeting summary · Open Access · Publishing

Publishing strategies: go for gold or time to go green?

Along with coinciding with Chinese New Year, this session also marked the first ECRAG meeting of 2015. The, slightly unrelated, ice breaker question asked, “have you ever been told you look like a famous celebrity?”. As always there was a mix of responses from sporting personalities, such as Michael Chang and Amir Khan, to movie stars like Mila Kunis.

Open Access

Okay down to business… publishing strategies.

We welcomed Suzanne Atkins from library services to shed some light on publishing strategies and get our head around Open Access and green vs gold routes.

What is Open Access publishing?

  • Unrestricted access of your published paper which is free and permanent
  • Online access
  • Removes the barrier of having to pay for the article which means anyone can read your research
  • Don’t forget that the University has very good levels of subscription to journals and, therefore, we can access most publications. Outside of a university this isn’t the case and people have to pay to read journal papers.
  • Benefits include: maximum impact (good for researchers and funders), students can access relevant literature with no restrictions, research is accessible by policy makers and the public, no copyright issues
  • The Finch report (June 2012) supported Open Access publishing and steered the government to support Open Access

Although publishing Open Access is usually expensive, there are some pots of money dedicated for this publishing strategy:

  1. Charity Open Access Fund (COAF): if you are funded by certain charities they allocate money to the University to pay for Open Access. Check your eligibility here.
  2. Small third part pot: for non-funded research or if your funders are not part of COAF.
    1. Contact Suzanne for more info
  3. Try the green route which is free (see below for more details).

New Policy ALERT: HEFCE Policy

From the 1st April 2016 all publications will have to be made open-access within a certain period of time. This will require you to self-archive your final manuscript in the university repository (more info below); therefore, it is good to get into the practice of doing this now!

Routes to publishing Open Access: Green vs Gold

To clarify: ‘Green’ is free self-archiving and ‘Gold’ is paying the publisher.


  • The accepted version of the manuscript is self-archived in the PURE database.
  • NOTE: all staff will have a PURE account but PhD students don’t. PhD students can get Suzanne to upload their publications.
  • You should archive the version which has been accepted by the journal but before the final print which will appear in the journal (i.e. before the publisher turns it into a PDF with journal branding).
  • Sometimes the journal may enforce an embargo for a specified timeframe e.g. 6 months
  • Check what is permitted and publisher’s policies on: (top tip: ignore the colour scheme which unhelpfully does NOT refer to green and gold open access!).
  • You may come across a ‘copyright transfer agreement’. You don’t always have to agree to these; be cheeky and ask for the bits you don’t want to be taken out- 9 times out of 10 it will work!


  • You pay the publisher the article processing charge to make your paper Open Access.
  • The benefits are that the publication will be available immediately and Open Access to everyone.
  • Some journals are fully Open Access through this route e.g. BioMed Central (BMC)
  • Be wary of what a journal claims is free on their website, this is not always the case.

Suzanne’s advice is to consider ‘Green’ Open Access first and submit the final version of your manuscript before the publisher creates a PDF of it. If you take anything away: if in doubt contact Suzanne. She is very approachable and knows her stuff!

The library also offers a range of training focused on raising your research profile:

  • Publishing strategies and new publishing models :15th April
  • Introduction to Research Data Management: 22nd April
  • Social media: generating interest and momentum via new channels: 29th April
  • Bibliometrics: what can you measure and how?: 6th May

Join us for our next ECRAG meeting which should be a popular one: we have Prof. Mel Calvert giving an introduction to the Institute of Translational Medicine. Wednesday 22nd April, Room 221.

Grace Moran:


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