The ENORMOUS benefits of open access publishing

open access logo, Public Library of ScienceThe BU Open Access Publication Fund is 12 months old! Over the past year we have funded the publication of 18 papers authored by BU staff in open access, peer-reviewed outlets such as PLoS ONE.

Open access publishing turns the traditional publishing route (readers paying subscriptions to publishers) on its head as researchers pay a fee to the publisher to publish their research and in turn the publisher makes the article available free of charge to readers immediately on publication.

For researchers, open access publishing increases visibility, usage and impact or research, and institutions enjoy the same benefits in aggregated form.  Society as a whole benefits because research is more efficient, effective and more easily accessible, and delivers better and faster outcomes for us all. In addition there is increasingly evidence to show that countries also benefit because open access publishing increases the impact of the research in which they invest public money and therefore there is a better return on investment.

One of the UK’s major supporters of open access publishing, the Wellcome Trust, states that it “supports unrestricted access to the published output of research as a fundamental part of its charitable mission and a public benefit to be encouraged wherever possible.” The European Commission are also one of the major supporters of the open access movement and have recently announced plans to publish a proposal to increase open access to research result in the EU. It is anticipated that the plans will reflext the EC’s decision to  make all outputs from research funded under Horizon 2020 (due to replace the current FP7 programme) openly accessible. Previous research by the EC demonstrates that the broad dissemination of research findings can accelerate scientific progress and has significant benefits to both the scientific community and to society.

Despite all of this growing evidence to demonstrate the benefits to individual researchers, institutions and countries, few UK universities operate open-access funds for their staff. Recent research conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham found that only 13% of the 52 UK universities who responded to their survey have a dedicated fund to pay fees for open access publishing. Of the remaining institutions who said they didn’t have such a fund, only 10% said they were likely to create one in the next 12 months.

We are very lucky at BU to have access to a dedicated central fund for open access publishing, clearly demonstrating BU’s commitment to supporting academic staff to publish and make their research findings freely available.

If you are interested in applying to the BU Open Access Publication Fund, click here for further information: BU Open Access Publication Fund