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Open Access: What is open access?

What is open access?


Main principles of open access

Spurred on by the development of the Internet, the 'open' movement emerged in the 1990s. Influential statements, including the Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003), and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access (2003), were subsequently released. These statements set out the criteria for open access publishing. Publications must be free to read at the point of access and only minimal restrictions on their re-use must be in place.

In the UK, a report written by Dame Janet Finch, Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications (2012), heavily influenced the release of the Research Council's policy on open access the following year. In 2014, the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) announced its own  'Policy for open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework.'

The benefits of open access

Open access publishing benefits both the research community and the general public. No university can afford to subscribe to all the journals that are of interest to researchers. Access costs are also a barrier to those based in industry, the charity sector, and in developing countries. Others argue that publicly-funded research should be publicly accessible.

Benefits of open access include:

  • increased visibility of research
  • higher citation counts
  • greater public engagement
  • accelerated opportunities for collaboration
  • avoidance of duplication of research
  • fairness and accountability

For further information see our guide Open access: a guide for busy researchers.

Open access at Bath

In line with other UK higher education institutions, the University of Bath supports the open access movement. The University therefore requires that peer-reviewed research publications produced by academic staff are made openly available via the University of Bath’s Research Portal.

These pages will help you do this quickly and easily.

University of Bath Open Access Deposit Mandate

  1. The University of Bath's Open Access Mandate states that all new peer-reviewed journal articles and published conference proceedings should be deposited in Pure, in full-text form, within three months of the publisher's acceptance date. Compliance with this mandate will mean that you are also meeting REF open access requirements.
  2. Optional deposit of other research outputs such as book sections, reports, working papers and conference presentations is encouraged. These items will be identified as peer-reviewed or non-peer-reviewed as appropriate.
  3. The library provides support for this activity and will check copyright permissions on all deposited papers.

Why do this?

  1. Increasing the public availability of full-text, peer-reviewed research papers will lead to improved citations and usage. 
  2. Not all potential readers of your work are able to subscribe to the publication in which it appears. Increasing journal subscription prices and university budget cuts will see open access copies more widely utilised.
  3. Publication details entered into Pure will be re-used to reduce duplication of effort by researchers.  These details feed through to the university’s researcher profile web pages and will be used for the university’s REF submission.  Lists can also be exported for appraisal or CV purposes.
  4. Research England have made open access a requirement for the next REF for journal articles and for conference papers published in journals with an ISSN. Adding these to Pure, once they have been accepted for publication, will meet this requirement.
  5. Open access is strongly supported by many funders including the UK Research Councils (UKRI), the European Commission, Wellcome Trust and other charities. These bodies already mandate that publications arising from such funded research are made publicly available. 
  6. Some publishers only allow authors to make their papers publicly available if it is mandated by the institution or funder. 
  7. Many other research-intensive universities have established open access mandates. These include: University College London, University of Bristol, University of Oxford and others. Institutions that do this benefit from increased dissemination and availability of their publications.

What does it mean for researchers?

  • The Open Access Mandate requires researchers to deposit full-text copies of their peer-reviewed journal articles and papers in the University of Bath research repository, Pure.
  • Uploading a copy of your paper and its details to Pure takes only a few minutes. All papers are copyright-checked by the library to comply with publisher policies and permissions and it is a means of safe and legal online storage. The library also offers help and guidance as needed.

Are you REF-ready?

  • Research England’s open access requirements for REF2021 include the condition that outputs can only be submitted to the REF if the full-text accepted manuscript (of journal articles or conference proceedings published in journals) has been deposited in an institutional or subject repository within 3 months of acceptance.
  • To ensure that your articles can be considered for the next REF, researchers need to follow these three steps:

Keep, Upload, Contact.

  1. Keep your author’s accepted manuscript for journal articles and conference proceedings (that have an ISSN). This activity is not necessary for books, chapters or other output types.
  2. It is necessary even where the publisher makes the article open access upon publication.
  3. Whether you are the sole author or a co-author, a postgraduate or a professor, you need to keep this version of your paper.
  4. Upload the author’s accepted manuscript to Pure at the point of acceptance - when the publisher sends you an acceptance notification, log into Pure to add the basic publication details and upload the document. Make sure you add the full acceptance date to the record.
  5. The library will check the document and set the embargo date if required. You are now compliant!
  6. The library will make regular checks to see if the article has been published and will update the publication details in Pure, once they become available.

Contact the library for help or advice:

How to comply

To ensure that you meet the University's open access requirement, follow these three easy steps: Keep, Upload, Contact graphic


 your Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM)

  • An AAM is the corrected manuscript following peer-review but which hasn't been copy-edited by the publisher. It is often a Word document, LaTeX file, or PDF
  • Whether you are the sole author, a co-author, a postgraduate, or a professor, you will need to keep this version of your journal article or conference proceeding


 the AAM to Pure as soon as it is accepted for publication

  • When the publisher sends you an acceptance notification, log into Pure, add the full acceptance date, the basic publication details, and upload the AAM.
  • The AAM must be deposited within three months of the acceptance date
  • Library staff will add extra bibliographic details and ensure compliance with publisher requirements
  • You are now compliant!


 the Open Access Team for help or advice

All researchers must follow the above steps for their work to be considered for the next REF. See our Open Access and the REF pages for more information.

University of Bath Pure and open access documents

Typically there are two routes to making your publications open access. These routes are commonly referred to as Green and Gold open access.

Green Open Access

  • outputs are published in the traditional manner but a version of the work is archived in an open access repository, such as Pure
  • the permitted version is normally the author accepted manuscript (AAM) however publishers are increasingly stipulating which versions can and can't be uploaded to repositories
  • this route involves no fee to the publisher
  • publishers often require an embargo (typically 12-24 months) be put in place before the research becomes freely accessible via the repository
  • if you want to check whether the journal that you want to publish in has an embargo period or any other notable licensing requirements then use SHERPA RoMEO to find out about your publishers' conditions for open access archiving.

Unless you choose the Gold route to open access, the University of Bath Open Access Mandate requires that the Green route is followed by all staff publishing peer-reviewed journal articles and published conference proceedings. This requirement is in place because these outputs must be openly available to be eligible for the next REF. For further information, please visit our pages about REF open access requirements.

We have also produced a guide to self-archiving which you may find useful.

Gold Open Access

  • an Article Processing Charge (APC) is paid to the publisher who then makes the final, published version of an output freely available on the journal's website
  • there is no cost for the reader to access the work and no embargo is required
  • the work should have a licence that allows maximise reuse, such as a CC-BY licence (see our OA licensing tab for further details of Creative Commons licences)
  • this route to open access is available via journals which only operate a Gold model for publishing their articles
  • alternatively, many journals which continue to operate the traditional subscription based model also allow authors to pay for their papers to be made openly available; these journals are known as 'hybrid'

Some funders, including the Research Councils and Wellcome Trust, prefer their funded authors to choose this route. Subsequently they provide funding to cover the cost of these fees. Please see our pages on funder requirements and paying for open access for further information.

When publishing your research openly you will need to consider what licence to use. Your publisher may ask you to select from a number of options if you are paying for your work to be made open. If you choose to self-archive your work your publisher may require that a particular licence is used when it is made available via a repository.

Creative Commons Licencing


Creative Commons licences are the most common licences applied to open access research outputs. These licences allow authors to retain copyright as well as enable others to copy, distribute, and re-use the work without requesting permission each time.

Please be aware that funders, including the Research Councils and members of the Charities Open Access Fund, require certain licences to be selected when publishing your research through the paid route. For further information a please see our pages on funder requirements.

A brief description of the six Creative Commons licences can be found below. Additional information can be found on the Creative Commons website.


The Licences

 Attribution (CC BY) 

  • works can be copied, redistributed, remixed, tweaked, and built upon, even commercially
  • users must credit author for the original creation
  • this is the most accommodating of licences offered

  Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)

  • works can be remixed, tweaked, and built upon, even commercially
  • users must credit the author and license their new creations under identical terms
  • as derivatives carry the same licence, commercial use is allowed of them

Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)

  • works can be redistributed, for both commercial and non-commercial reasons
  • they must be passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the author

Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

  • works can be remixed, tweaked, and built upon non-commercially
  • new works must acknowledge the author and be non-commercial
  • new works do not have to license their derivative works on the same terms

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

  • works can be remixed, tweaked, and build upon your work non-commercially
  • new works must credit the author and license their new creations under identical terms

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)

  • works can be downloaded and shared as long as the author is credited
  • works can't be changed or used commercially
  • this licence is the most restrictive of the six main licences

Open access book publishing

Although many open access policies focus on journal articles, it is also possible to publish books and book chapters openly. The OAPEN Foundation has launched a new open access (OA) books toolkit for researchers and academic book authors. The toolkit is a free-to-access, stakeholder-agnostic resource that aims to help authors better understand OA for books, increase trust in OA book publishing, provide reliable and easy-to-find answers to questions from authors, and to provide guidance on the process of publishing an OA book.  The toolkit was created in collaboration with Springer Nature and The University of Glasgow and has been written by a global and diverse group of stakeholders from the academic community and scholarly communications organisations.  

The Library’s Open Access Team can assist you in making the right publishing choice for your work if you are considering pursuing this route. Your options will depend on whether or not you have already published your book.


  • I’ve already published a book/ book chapter. How can I make it open access?

Many publishers allow the self-archiving of author accepted manuscripts. This means you can upload a version of your work to Pure. Often, a single chapter can be deposited and made openly available after an embargo period. The Library’s Open Access Team can advise you about different publisher policies. Please contact for more information, and see our guidance on uploading content to Pure.


  • I’m going to publish a book/ book chapter. What open access publishing options are available to me?

Increasingly commercial publishers are offering the option to pay to make your book (or book chapter) openly available. Open access fees can range from £2,500 to £10,000 depending on length, number of colour illustrations, and so on. Examples of commercial publishers which offer open access monograph publishing include: Cambridge University Press, Edinburgh University Press, Oxford University Press, Palgrave, Routledge, Springer, Policy Press, and Ubiquity Press. It is also worth considering university and scholarly society presses as a way to publish your book openly. Examples of university presses which offer open access monograph publishing include UCL Press, University of Huddersfield Press, Cardiff University Press, and White Rose University Press

Finally, we have a subscription to Open Book Publishers which enables University of Bath authors to publish open access books with no book processing charges. In some cases this tool has been used to make previously out of print books available online in a new edition.  Please contact the Open Access team for advice.

The Library has also produced a useful guide to ebook academic publishing considerations for authors.


Funder requirements

Currently monographs and book chapters do not fall under the scope of UKRI's open access policies. Please visit our funding pages for more information.

Wellcome Trust's open access policy does, however, include monographs and book chapters. Funding is available for the cost of making monographs open and authors should apply directly to the Wellcome Trust for reimbursement of the costs.

For more advice, please contact

Below is a selection of tools to help you find open access publications.

New ways to locate open material are appearing all the time so this list should not be considered comprehensive.

Research outputs produced by University of Bath researchers, including open access publications, are available via the University's Research Portal:

CORE provides access to millions of scholarly outputs from hundreds of repositories:

Subject repositories:

Directories of open access journals, books, repositories, policies and mandates:

Tools to find open access publications and theses: