Posts Tagged ‘open access benefits’

The blog post, ‘The Scientists encouraging online piracy with a secret codeword’ featured on the BBC this week has raised a number of pertinent points about access to research, and the restrictions imposed under current publishing models. The post discusses how researchers are harnessing social media to locate and illegally distribute copyrighted materials, which may be part of paid subscriptions. As the article states, this approach plays upon the well-known ‘I can haz’ meme, placing the issues of open access firmly within modern social culture. Similarly, the post below was recently spotted on the popular FML website, again highlighting that the issues surrounding open access are becoming embedded in popular culture, and are becoming a source of casual amusement.

FML OA image

However, in spite of the cute cat references the distribution, or pirating of articles in this way poses many legal and moral questions. In contrast, initiatives such as the Open Access Button help users to locate free, and legal, copies of papers via repositories, authors websites and ultimately by contacting the author of each paper. The OA Button is run by student volunteers and is not an ideal solution to such a large problem, but it does emphasise and promote the need to make papers and research available as open access in a fair way, rather than subversively bypassing publishers.

We may hope that the introduction of HEFCE’s open access policy for the next REF in April 2016  may increase the number of articles which are available via open access. Unfortunately this seems to be far more of the ‘stick’ approach, rather than the ‘carrot’ – and many people may not fully understand the positive implications that open access can have when it becomes a mandatory requirement for UK HE institutions.

The publicity that the BBC’s blog has achieved has helped to show that open access remains a key concern among researchers and that they are willing to adopt potentially unethical methods in order to access pay-walled materials.

By making your research available via the SRI Open Access Repository you ensure that your research can be accessed by anyone in a free and legal way.

For open access support please contact sriopenaccess@surrey.ac.uk or consult our updated Open Access webpages www.surrey.ac.uk/library/research/openaccess


The Scientists encouraging online piracy with a secret codeword, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-34572462 [accessed 21/10/2015]

FML http://www.fmylife.com/ [accessed 11/10/2015]

‘About Us’, Open Access Button, https://openaccessbutton.org/about#how [accessed 21/10/2015]

HEFCE policy http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2014/201407/ [accessed 21/10/2015]


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In the last few months, you have been strongly encouraged to deposit the full text of your papers in SRI. If the publisher’s policy allows, the paper appears on SRI Open Access, easily discoverable and freely available for anyone to download. Most major funding bodies, including RCUK, now encourage or even mandate this practice; and so do Universities.  But if you are not  convinced there are great benefits in depositing your papers in SRI, read below…

1. SRI Open Access makes a paper highly visible. If your paper can be posted on SRI Open Access, it will rank highly on Google/Google Scholar. This means that more people than before will be able to find it and read it.

2. Papers in SRI Open Access are downloaded – a lot.  In the last year only (April 2011 – April 2012), full-text papers in SRI Open Access have been downloaded 230,238 times. Visit  http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/cgi/irstats.cgi to monitor how often your paper is being downloaded.

3. High download rates mean higher citations. The more often a paper is downloaded, the more likely it is to be read and cited. The link between open access and research impact is well documented. By not having your paper freely accessible, you lose potential readers – and citations.

4. SRI Open Access helps you attract new audiences. Your papers are freely available to everyone, without password or subscription barriers. This means that many more people will reach your paper if it is openly accessible: researchers from non-subscribing Universities, potential collaborators from industry and other organisations, and prospective students. SRI papers are widely read, with downloads from over 100 countries.

5. Open access has wider benefits for society. Scholarly journals are expensive. Open access benefits Universities that can only afford subscriptions to a limited number of journals. Even wealthy institutions cannot  subscribe to all possible journals. This means that researchers, as well as their employers and funders, may not  even have access to literature that they produced or funded themselves. Likewise, those not affiliated with a research institution – practitioners, patients, the wider public – face the same limitations to access.

Open access lifts those barriers, making research immediately and easily available to everyone.

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