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Open Access is free and immediate access online to scholarly research, teaching and educational resources and data, including the ability for others to reuse these things without permission within appropriate limits.

The University of Otago has Open Access policy and guidelines.

Why open access?

Much of the world's academic research is available only to people who work in institutions like ours. This means many people who want access can't get it (legally) without paying: community groups, public servants, policy makers, teachers, students, health professionals, patients, etc., not to mention the people who fund most of the research in the first place, the public. In many countries governments and funding agencies are imposing mandates that research must be made available openly but this is not the case in New Zealand.

From the researcher's point of view, making your work available openly means you're more likely to be read, more likely to be cited, and your work is more likely to be reused.

OA publishing - make your work available to the widest possible audience

'Gold' open access (Gold OA) generally means the final, formally published version of your work is published online for anyone to access free of charge. Sometimes this involves an Article Processing Charge (APC), the amount of which can vary widely. Read more in this fact sheet about APCs. There are high-quality, peer-reviewed OA journals that do not charge a fee. The Directory of Open Access Journals is a good place to find information on OA journals and their fees. Discounts and waivers are available in some cases - check the publisher's website or with your subject librarian.

'Green' open access (Green OA) is sometimes referred to as self-archiving and is free. This generally means depositing a version of your work, such as an accepted manuscript, in a discipline-based or institutional repository. As such, the only cost is the time involved in making the deposit. Some departments at Otago have adopted a policy of depositing all their research outputs in OUR Archive (see more below) to ensure people interested in their work, such as community groups, health workers or government agencies, have access. Green OA will meet the OA requirements for most funding agencies that have an OA policy.

Especially in relation to Green OA, it's important to understand your rights when you sign a publishing agreement. What can you do with your final published work or a pre-publication version, like the final manuscript you submitted? Can you use it in your teaching? Can you put it in OUR Archive? What about an academic networking site like Academia or ResearchGate or discipline-based repositories? You can find out about publishers policies' in the Sherpa/Romeo database and about funders' policies in the Sherpa/Juliet one. The Authors' Alliance provides excellent resources to learn more about what words in contracts mean and how to negotiate an agreement and an organisation called SPARC hosts an 'Author's Addendum' you can use to get the rights you need.

Predatory journals will have spammed you with email suggesting you publish with them, usually with an APC charged. While they will usually call themselves OA journals, this is neither here nor there: they are just bad journals with poor or non-existent peer-review or editorial standards. Check out Think, Check, Submit or the APC fact sheet again if you're wondering about a journal.

'Hybrid' journals are traditional journals that charge for access but provide an option to pay an APC to make your work OA. Unless there's a particular reason you want the formally published version of your work to be freely available, Green OA is a better (free) option. Hybrid really means we're paying twice as things stand.

OA monographs are becoming more common but still much less so than OA journal publishing. Much of the above applies: you can go for Gold OA but this will usually cost; Green OA is something you might need to negotiate with your publisher.

OUR Archive - the Otago research repository

Otago has its own, the Otago University Research (OUR) Archive, through which staff and students can publish their research. It is indexed by Google Scholar, so your work is easily discoverable, providing a permanent, reliable repository for your work along with usage statistics. For graduate research students, deposit in OUR Archive is required as part of the process of completing your degree. For staff, OUR Archive is a place to deposit either things that haven't been published elsewhere (e.g. conference papers, reports, discussion papers) or as a place to provide access to your peer-reviewed Green OA work, e.g. pre-publication versions of research that was formally published in a subscription-access journal.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

OERs are resources that are freely available for use in any learning context, usually digital and openly licensed for reuse. This makes them adaptable for teachers and free to access for students. Some research suggests that since OERs remove all access barriers to learning resources they improve student achievement and retention.

Watch a video introduction to OERs elsewhere on these pages or check out open textbooks developed at Otago, such as Media Studies 101 or Practical Programming in Python. The Media Studies project also created resources for those thinking about how to develop their own open textbook. The Educause paper 7 Things You Should Know About Open Textbook Publishing also provides a useful primer.

In terms of reusing OERs developed by others in your own teaching, services like MERLOT and OER Commons can be searched; some institutions like MIT and the UK Open University and others listed here make all their resources available for reuse under open licences. More or less anything on Wikipedia/Wikimedia commons is openly-licensed.

Teaching a course 'in the open'

If you want to use a wiki, blog, or similarly openly accessible platform (i.e. where students won't need to log in to access it), then you can't rely on Otago's copyright licences to copy material, which all require material to be restricted via a secure environment with a logon.

Follow these principles to be open:

  • Don't copy: link. Find the material on the web (as long as it's legitimate) and link to it. You're not copying, so copyright isn't an issue. It's also good practice to link to a proper source so that the site knows what use is being made of their work, i.e. don't 'steal their clicks.'
  • Use materials that are licensed for reuse, such as those with a Creative Commons licence. See the examples above
  • You might also use public domain materials (i.e. copyright has expired or no copyright, e.g. court judgements or legislation). For most books and journals the creator will have to have died at least 50 years ago for the material to be in the public domain so this will only be viable for some disciplines.
  • Direct students to the library copy. In other words, provide a reference for students to gain access themselves. If it's, say, an electronic journal article then they can most likely access it through the Library with their student login. Ask your subject librarian about how best to do this. You can, of course, put books on close reserve for short-term loans.
  • Get permission from the rights holder. Make sure you're clear that this will be openly accessible to anyone on the web.
  • Rely on fair dealing - though this isn't really a viable option in this context for anything beyond a short quotation of text.

If you're copying anything from a print book that's still in copyright or something to which the Library subscribes you have to use eReserve.

Open data

Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone and is a fast-developing area, depending on your discipline, including the rise of data journals. In many countries, governments have been leading the way on data, as is the case in New Zealand with, which is the access point for data released by the government under its own open access licensing framework (NZGOAL) of data and resources with high potential for public reuse. Check out OA-related information in the Otago libguide on data management.

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