Open Access at The University of Cumbria Frequently Asked Questions

What is Open Access?

    Open Access (OA) means that scholarly materials such as peer-reviewed articles are made freely available online, in a digital format, at no charge to the reader.
    There are two main routes which can be taken to make research outputs openly accessible: the ‘Green’ route and the ‘Gold’ route.

What is Gold Open Access?

The Gold route to OA is where:

  • The article is available via the publisher’s website immediately on publication, usually with no charge to the reader
  • This often involves the author paying an Article Processing Charge (APC: a fee that some open access journal publishers charge, in order to publish an article, said to cover the costs of publication such as those associated with the editorial and peer-review processes and usually paid for by the author’s institution or funding body; the average APC is said to be around £1,750)
  • Normally, gold open access journals that charge APCs do not charge reader subscriptions, but occasionally they charge both; this is known as ‘double dipping’, and in effect access is paid for twice
  • Gold OA may be in a completely open journal or in a subscription journal where the individual article is openly available

What is Green Open Access?

The Green route to OA is where:

  • The author publishes an article in the journal of their choice and self-archives (deposits) their author’s accepted manuscript (AAM, see definition below) into an institutional or subject repository (like the University of Cumbria’s Insight), making it freely available online for those who lack subscription access to the official journal website
  • The version made available is the author’s accepted manuscript or AAM: this is the author’s final draft that has been accepted by a publisher for publication in a journal and includes any changes made during the peer-review process but not the publisher's typesetting/formatting (it is sometimes known as the 'post-print')
  • Access to the deposited version (the AAM) through the green route can either be immediate (if the publisher doesn’t stipulate an embargo period), or delayed (if they do) - every publisher has a different policy
  • The article is made OA without the author having to pay an Article Processing Charge (APC, see definition above)

What are the benefits of Open Access?

The benefits of OA are multifold:

  • It maximises the use of public funds by making research outputs funded by the tax payer freely discoverable to anyone with an internet connection
  • Published evidence demonstrates that OA enhances the visibility of an article and increases the number of citations it receives
  • It is widely considered to be an ethical practice that is sustainable in the long-term
  • It enables compliance with research funder requirements, may of which require outputs to be openly accessible soon after publication
  • It encourages collaboration between scholars

What is the University of Cumbria’s position on Open Access?

  • The University of Cumbria fully supports the OA agenda, it is committed to ensuring the maximum benefit from its practical, applied and practitioner-focussed research, by making its research outputs as widely accessible as possible and it recognises the vital function OA plays in this goal
  • The University favours the green route to open access, and requires that the research outputs created by its staff are freely and publicly discoverable, via its institutional repository Insight
  • For published articles and conference proceedings, the University requires its authors to deposit their accepted manuscripts or AAMs into Insight as soon as possible after the point of acceptance
  • For other types of research outputs (presentations, reports, exhibitions, etc) the University requires its authors to deposit the metadata and any associated files (slides, pdfs, images, etc) into Insight as soon as possible after the point of creation
  • While the University’s library staff administer Insight, is the responsibility of individual authors to ensure their outputs are deposited in Insight
  • For more information see the University of Cumbria’s Open Access Policy here

What is meant by an embargo period?

  • In scholarly publishing, an embargo period is a length of time, set by a publisher, that has to pass before the full-text of a journal article can be freely available in a repository like Insight
  • Authors should deposit their full-text AAM (author's accepted manuscript) into Insight at the point of acceptance (the date the publisher emails the author to confirm the article has been accepted for publication) and if an embargo needs to be applied, a member of the Insight team will ensure the AAM is ‘hidden’ for the duration of the embargo
  • Embargo periods normally don’t apply when the Gold route to open access is taken and the article is published in an open access journal
  • If the Green route is taken and an author publishes an article in a non-open access journal, the publisher often stipulates that the AAM can only be made live in a repository like Insight after a specific length of time, typically between 6 months and 24 months from the date of publication
  • The date of publication can be the date of online or print publication, whichever is sooner (usually online is first)
  • Embargo periods vary, depending on individual journal policies and are intended to protect publishers’ revenues
  • Embargo periods are important. Research England stipulate that in order for outputs to be eligible for the next REF, they must be subject to embargoes of a maximum of 12 months for STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and 24 months for AHSS subjects (arts, humanities and social science)
  • Other research funders also stipulate requirements in this area: UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) require embargo periods for any research they have funded to be limited to 6 months for STEM and 12 months for AHSS
  • To check what embargo periods many journals and publishers enforce, see the SHERPA RoMEO site here

What is the difference between pre-print, post-print and publisher version of an article?

  • The 'pre-print' ('submitted' version) is the version of an article in its early stages that an author submits to a publisher and it does not incorporate changes made during peer-review
  • The 'post-print' is the version accepted for publication, known as the author’s accepted manuscript (AAM) and it incorporates revisions made as a result of the peer-review process; this is the version that authors need to deposit into Insight
  • The publisher version is the final, official version that appears on the journal website and incorporates the publisher’s formatting and typesetting; most publishers do not allow their publisher versions to be archived/deposited into institutional repositories like Insight (although there are some exceptions)

What is Research England's open access policy for the next REF?

Research England's policy on the role of Open Access in the next Research Excellence Framework (REF) applies to all UK higher education institutions and states that:

  • To be eligible for submission to the next REF (c.2021), authors' accepted manuscripts or AAM (i.e. the author's final peer-reviewed manuscript that was accepted for publication but not the official publisher version) must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository, like Insight, no later than 3 months after acceptance for publication
  • This applies to all papers published in journals or conference proceedings with an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) accepted after 1 April 2016
  • Embargoes stipulated by the publishers will be respected and ‘closed’ deposits will be admissible to the REF
  • Other research outputs (research papers, presentations, reports, exhibitions, etc) are encouraged to be OA

What is a Creative Commons (CC) license?

  • When you attach a file to your deposit in Insight, whether it is your author’s accepted manuscript, presentation slides, or an image or video representing your exhibition or performance, you can apply a Creative Commons license to protect it
  • CC licenses give creators a way to share their work in the public domain without having to relinquish copyright or individually license their work
  • CC-BY-NC Attribution NonCommercial is recommended, as it is compliant with Research England and UKRI policy, and it is the default license applied to full-texts in Insight. This license lets others alter the work and then share it so long as it is not for commercial advantage and credit must be made to the original creator
  • Other licenses include:
    CC BY Attribution (least restrictive licence), which lets others share and alter the work, even commercially, as long as credit is given to the original creator;
    CC BY-SA Attribution ShareAlike, which lets others share and alter the work, even commercially, as long as the original creator is credited and any new works based on the original work are licensed under an identical licence;
    CC BY-ND Attribution NoDerivatives, which lets others share the work, even commercially, as long as it is unaltered and credit is given to the original creator;
    CC BY-NC-SA Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike, which lets others alter the work non-commercially, as long as the original creator is credited and any new creations are licensed under identical terms;
    CC BY-NC-ND Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivatives (the most restrictive licence and not compliant with UKRI policy), which only allows others to share the work for non-commercial gain, as long as credit is made to the original creator, and prohibits altering the work in any manner;
    CC 0 Public Domain Dedication, which allows users to copy, alter and share the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission (no rights are applied).

What if my research is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI - formerly RCUK)?

The UKRI OA policy states that:

  • Outputs arising from research funded fully or partially by an UKRI grant have to be made OA within 12 months of publication for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded papers and within 6 months of publication for all other papers
  • ‘Made open access’ can be either via the green route (deposited in an institutional repository like Insight) or the gold route (published in an open access journal)
  • UKRI-funded papers must be deposited into a repository like Insight without restriction on non-commercial re-use (this is to maximise exposure to the research findings); this can be achieved using either CC-BY or CC-BY-NC
  • Individual research councils may also have additional specific OA requirements e.g. the Medical Research Council (MRC) and ESRC require deposit in specific subject repositories (Europe PubMed Central and the ESRC Research Catalogue respectively)

What if my research is funded by the Wellcome Trust?

The Wellcome Trust OA policy states that:

  • Published journal articles arising from research funded by the Wellcome Trust must be made OA within 6 months of publication and be deposited in Europe PubMed Central
  • If your research is funded by any of the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) members (Arthritis Research UK, Breast Cancer Campaign, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and the Wellcome Trust) then the same OA policy applies as the Wellcome Trust

How can I check if my preferred journal complies with my funder's OA policy?

  • The SHERPA/FACT site provides guidance on various journals’ compliance with various funders OA policies
  • The SHERPA/JULIET site provides guidance on research funders' open access policies
  • Information from these services is updated frequently but should be used with caution when assessing policy compliance (if in doubt email

Where can I get further information?

Please contact the University of Cumbria Research Office or Repository Manager for further Open Access guidance and advice