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Why Open Access?

Here we explore the benefits for authors of making research outputs open access

"We believe that opening the record of science to the widest possible audience and making that record re-usable will accelerate the generation of knowledge and accelerate discovery."

What is open access?

Open access refers to the open, available publication of research papers so that anyone can access them. Traditionally research was only available to those who could gain access to it via a library subscription. By opening up research to anyone, open access helps facilitate greater engagement, collaboration and dissemination of research.

Moving beyond open access, practices are emerging which open up the research and publication process even further – including open data and open peer review

Benefits of open access

Apart from data showing that authors who choose open access publication are likely to benefit from increased dissemination and citation, at its core, open access is about facilitating availability of research outputs for everyone to use. By opening up the research and underlying data, other researchers can build upon the published work thus extending the field. Open access can be particularly beneficial for those working outside of academia – such as patients or industry professionals – who may have a strong interest in the scientific research in question. 

As open access gains traction, many funders are requiring authors to publish the outputs from their grant-funded research open access. For example, Plan S brings together a group of funders that mandate open access publication. 

We believe that opening the record of science to the widest possible audience and making that record re-usable will accelerate the generation of knowledge and accelerate discovery.

Royal Society open access

The Royal Society currently publishes two pure open access journals and eight hybrid journals. Furthermore, we are transitioning four of the hybrid journals to fully open access journals under the Transformative Journal model

Since the open access movement first emerged, the traditional funding model has been an Article Processing Charge (APC). This payment usually came directly from the authors – from grant money. However, the high APC costs can be restrictive, and in recent years there have been efforts to find alternative models of funding which address some of the disadvantages of the APC model. Most notably this has come through transformative deals whereby the cost of open access publication will be covered by agreements with libraries or consortia. Royal Society journal authors have a range of options to cover the costs of publication. Along with the standard APC payment option, we have a number of waiver schemes and agreements with various universities, which cover the cost of publishing open access for their authors.

The Royal Society is also a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers’ Association (OASPA) and The Society Publishers' Coalition (SocPC). OASPA specifically "works to encourage and enable open access as the predominant model of communication for scholarly outputs." By facilitating collaboration with like-minded publishers and organisations, these memberships enable us to learn from others and develop best practice policies

Check out our video for an overview of Royal Society open access:


Royal Society open science

Beyond open access, Royal Society Publishing has a number initiatives that support the values of open science more broadly. For example, all Royal Society publications include a data accessibility statement, detailing how the underlying data and code can be accessed. By helping to facilitate open data sharing, it’s easier for other researchers to access, verify and build upon the published research. 

Several of our journals operate transparent peer review, which helps to open up the peer review process on published articles. Under this model peer review reports are published with their corresponding articles, and the referees are given the option to reveal their identity if they wish to do so. By making peer reviews available, other researchers can read a wide range of reviews and hopefully reflect on their own peer reviewing practices as a result. In a previous blog post, we spoke to Panos Soutanas about the benefits of Open Biology’s Open Peer Review format: “It will ‘force’ [reviewers] to be more constructive, open minded and will eliminate hidden agendas. They will be more careful and considerate when reviewing papers.”

Open access helps unlock research, facilitate collaboration, and push the boundaries of science. We are committed to open science and look forward to increasing openness. 

Find out more about publishing open access with us.

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