Open Access Publishing

UHI Libraries have created a very useful guide to Open Access (OA), Article Processing Charges (APCs) and explain the vouchers or discounts available to university researchers. You can access it at UHI LibGuides.

If you are looking for OA information specifically in relation to the REF, go to the REF information area.

General open access FAQs:

UHI policy on the preferred Open Access route

UHI policy on the preferred Open Access route

There are currently 2 main approaches available to institutions with respect to meeting the Government’s target of a move towards full (or near to full) Open Access research publications by 2016. These are known as the ‘Green’ Open Access route, and the ‘Gold’ Open Access route.

Block Grant
UHI does not receive any block grant from RCUK for payment of APC's and so we have to rely on the route of 'Green' access (however, SAMS have negotiated a small grant through their contact with NERC - SAMS researchers should contact your library representative/Head of Department to find out more). There is a very small fund set aside within the Research Office to cover the cost of 'Gold' access in exceptional circumstances, and mostly for high REF scoring articles. If you have an output that needs funds to pay for an APC, where project and department funds cannot meet the cost, then please refer tot the APC payments webpage.  

The university Open Access Policy (research publishing) was approved at Academic Board 19th June 2014, and should be used by all UHI researchers to guide their decision on the publication route for each publication. In summary though UHI are adopting the following route, that facilitates a hybrid approach to Open Access at this stage:

1. The use of the Green Open Access publication route as UHI’s default preferred approach to publication of journal-based research outputs; but which

2. Makes provision to enable/facilitate Gold Open Access publication where either of the following apply:

a. Gold Open Access publication is a stated requirement of the research grant funding body, or

b. The preferred academic journal for publication of particularly (strategically) important output is available only through the Gold Open Access route, and where the output is intended for inclusion in UHI’s submission to the next REF.

In agreeing the above, it is acknowledged it is important for UHI to retain a close watching brief on developments across the sector in regards to Open Access and to be prepared to adjust this policy position accordingly, as well as to engage in the sector-wide debate on Open Access.

It should also be noted that the above policy relates to research publications. However, in the case of publications that are understood to be derived from scholarship and advanced scholarship, it is proposed that only the Green Open Access route for publication should be supported.

Within our university the PURE system will take care of most of the requirements of the new regulations surrounding making outputs (and datasets) openly accessible, compliant with any embargoes and keeping track of acceptance and publication dates (and exceptions). However, this relies on research outputs being entered onto Pure on time and researchers ensuring all data entered into Pure is correct - if it is not in Pure, it can not be checked for compliance.

What is Open Access publishing?

What is Open Access publishing?

Put simply, Open Access is about making the outputs of publicly funded research freely available to anyone without restriction. It offers an alternative to the traditional publishing model, where published research is only available by subscription or behind a pay-to-download pay-wall.  The idea is that an article published with fewer restrictions on the readership increases the potential impact of research with collaboration and citation opportunities also positively affected.

Simplified publishing process graphic

Simplified publishing process graphic

Simplified publishing process graphic describing article versions and processing steps within journals and PURE -Publishing process



What's the difference between Green, Gold and Hybrid Open Access?

What's the difference between Green, Gold and Hybrid Open Access?

Green Open Access is where articles are published in traditional academic journals where the content is only available to subscribers. A version of the article is also deposited in an open access repository (usually the Authors Final Version); for UHI researchers this means depositing in PURE.  That copy can then be accessed by anyone without charge, although there might be an embargo period applied to the publisher version of the output. Individual publishers may set an embargo period on the full published document, while allowing authors pre-reviewed and/or post reviewed drafts to be posted before an embargo is concluded. The rules for a particular publication will be made clear by your publisher. The Green Open Access route is the option preferred by the university as we do not have access to a 'Block Grant' - more on this under the tab 'OA policy at UHI'. 

Gold Open Access refers to publications available freely online without restriction and with no charges to the reader. Generally, these will require payment on behalf of the author. This is a controversial subject but many in the funding councils and research councils are known to favour this route. The author(s) will usually have to pay a fee (an Article Processing Charge or APC) with this cost likely to run as high as £3000 per output, so careful consideration is required to determine if an output requires this route. The term 'gold' is not intended to be a measure of quality

Hybrid Open Access is where the article is published in a traditional subscription journal, but where the author can pay an APC to the publisher to make their individual article freely available from the journal website, without restriction and with no charges to the reader. This means that some articles in the journal will only be available to subscribers; others (where the author(s) have paid an APC) are freely available to anyone.

Diamond Open Access – is where you get the best of all deal and an article is published with full open access without any fee, APC or subscription. Clearly this is not yet a common option but it is possible.


What us meant by the terms 'gratis' and 'libre' open access?

What us meant by the terms 'gratis' and 'libre' open access?

You may also come across references to 'gratis' and 'libre' open access. This refers to a wider discussion within the academic community as to whether access is enough - or whether lowering of restrictions on commercial and non-commercial re-use are actually required.

  • Gratis Open Access refers to immediate, permanent online access, free for all on the Web
  • Libre Open Access refers to immediate, permanent online access, free for all on the Web plus certain further re-use, re-publication and re-mix rights.

It is not possible to correlate green/gold open access with gratis/libre open access as it is also tied to the re-use licence. However it is often easier for an article to be 'Libre OA' if it has been published by the gold route and so the journal can set specific licences for re-usage at a journal level rather than at an individual article level.

Why should I make my research open access?

Why should I make my research open access?

There are lots of different reasons why Open Access is a good idea.

  • There is strong evidence to suggest that open access research has greater reach and visibility, which can potentially increase its impact: more people can access the research without restriction and so more people use it. It can also increase the potential for collaborative opportunities with other researchers across the world.
  • From an ethical point of view research which is funded from the public purse should be available to anyone and not locked in away in a subscription-based journal. The University of the Highlands and Islands recognises this and requires all researchers to deposit copies of their research in PURE for public access through the Research Database, the university’s institutional repository.
  • Universities pay large subscription fees to provide access to traditional academic journals. Constantly rising subscription costs are unsustainable and a new model is needed. The development of the internet offers greater opportunities for collaboration and the sharing and use of information more widely.
  • Finally, the UK Research Councils, The Wellcome Trust and the European Commission are increasingly making it a condition of funding that publicly funded research is made freely available to everyone via open access. Other funding bodies and national governments in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia are also introducing policies to ensure that publicly funded research is available to the public, and not hidden behind pay-wall barriers for the commercial interests of publishers.

Checking particular publishers OA and APC requirements

Checking particular publishers OA and APC requirements

Publisher requirements are constantly changing, and within publishing houses individual journals often have different requirements to the publisher norm. If in any doubt you should always refer to to your journal contact (or if you are not the lead author, refer to the lead author on the article).

UHI libraries constantly update UHI-publisher deal information, see their Library guide for the latest

Elsevier AAM embargo periods for the UK

Elsevier AAM embargo periods for the UK

Elsevier do support self-archiving of the AAM in an institutional repository, but they require you to attach a CC-BY-NC-ND license, and for most journals there is an embargo period before the AAM can be made open.  However, due to the OA guidelines for REF being UK only they have produced a separate list of UK embargo periods for AAM, which are different to their 'standard' requirements.

Download the Elsevier pdf Elsevier-UK-Embargo-Periods

How do I know if my funder requires my publications are made open access?

How do I know if my funder requires my publications are made open access?

If your funding partner has a requirement for any publications that result from the project they are funding to be published openly they were usually be very clear about this and should provide mechanisms to ensure you are able to do so.  If they do not make this clear, ask them.

Both RCUK and The Wellcome Trust require publications to be made open access. You can find out more information from their webpages at:

Sherpa Juliet is a freely available database of funders open access policies - although we would always recommend contacting your funder directly to confirm any specific details this can be a useful quick check. The SHERPA/RoMEO funders webpage has details listed by funder, ordered by country, advising if they have a requirement to publish under Open Access terms.

Where do I find an Open Access journal to publish an article?

Where do I find an Open Access journal to publish an article?

You can find a list of reliable Open Access Journals in the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals).

Finding/checking for a trusted journal? Use Think, Check, Submit.

What is meant by "pre-print" and "post-print", and which version should I deposit ?

What is meant by "pre-print" and "post-print", and which version should I deposit ?

Author’s Original (AO), ‘Preprint', or author's submitted manuscript: the un-refereed version of an article.

Authors Accepted Manuscript (or AAM), 'Post-print', Author Final Version: refers to the final draft, as accepted for publication or the version of the article that has been accepted for publication in the journal following the process of peer-review (but before typesetting and proof correction).

Version of Record (VoR), publisher version: the definitive version of the article as published.

Generally speaking the “AAM” version should be deposited in the Research Database, as it is the version most universaly acceptable in copyright terms. Occasionally your chosen journal will only allow the 'preprint version' to be made available through Institutional Repositories but you should always carefully check the journal terms of publishing, as they should state what they allow for any particular article.

Gold OA

Gold OA

How much does it cost to publish open access?

The fee for the Article Processing Charge (APC) varies according to the individual journal or the area of research. Fees typically range from £500-2000 (plus VAT), although they can be more.

It should be noted that the market for Open Access APCs is still developing, and constantly changing, you need to be vigilent and make use of the Library APC voucher and discount page.

How should I factor in Open Access costs to a grant application?

Adding the cost of any expected publications during the course of a project should always be factored into a grant application, so you have funds for APC's available when you need them. Many funders will allow you to factor in publication costs at the grant application process. If this is the case (or it is a funder requirement), it is worth considering the journals you will target for publication, and if they offer a gold or green open access option. You should contact your funder directly to investigate this.

Authors can use Sherpa Romeo to identify options offered by a journal, or contact your local university library for further advice.

Are there any APC discounts available?

Yes. We have various pre-payment and discount schemes with publishers, arranged alongside our journal subscription deals. For further details, contact your local university librarian or see the library APC/OA help page.

How can I pay open access fees charged by a publisher?

The university does not receive a block grant from RCUK, which is a fund used by larger universities to cover various costs including APC's. For UHI researchers the route to paying APC's could be:

  1. project grant fund
  2. local APC fund
  3. Research Office APC fund

SAMS have their own small fund, contact SAMS library. There may also be funds available at your local site, please contact your local university library or head or research for specific advice. The university research office has ring-fenced a small internal fund for the payment of APC's which is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

If your research is funded by The Wellcome Trust, you can apply for additional funding to cover the cost of open access fees. More information on what these fees cover is available from our Wellcome Trust Open Access pages.

If you want to find out more visit the APC help page.

I don't have any funding available to cover the costs, what should I do?

If funding is not available, you will need to publish your research using the Green, rather than the Gold, route. This means that your research will be published in a traditional, subscription-based journal and a copy must also be made available via the Research Database using PURE. The Green Open Access route is the option preferred option at UHI. Various discounts are abilable and help from the university open access specialist - see the library APC/OA help page.

Different funding bodies have their own criteria relating to Green Open Access publishing (covering areas such as the length of any permitted embargoes or the licence under which the research is published). Please contact your local university library for further advice.

I am one of several authors from different institutions. Who should fund the Open Access costs?

It is generally expected that the lead/corresponding author or the institution that the PI of the research grant is attached to would fund the open access costs.

Are Open Access journals peer reviewed?

Obviously this varies from journal to journal, but generally, yes. Research submitted for open access publication goes through exactly the same process of peer review as more traditional publications in most cases. Open Access publications are also open to wider scrutiny post-publication as they are more readily available to both academic and non-academic readers.

I have concerns over the quality of publishing Open Access.

Many open access titles are of equally high quality as more established, subscription-based journals. Research submitted for most open access publication goes through exactly the same process of peer review as more traditional publications.  While this may sometimes have been the case in the early days of OA, now it is much less likely to be the case.

Don't Open Access journals have low impact factors?

Some open access journals may currently have no or low impact factors. This is because of the way impact factors are calculated. They are based on the average number of citations per paper published in that journal over a two year period. As many purely open access journals are relatively new, they may not yet have sufficient data to generate an impact factor.

This is not, however, a reliable indicator on the quality of the research. Websites such as Eigenfactor show that open access journals can be just as prestigious as more traditional journals.

The value of impact factors is also decreasing. They will not be used as part of the 2021 REF or any subsequent REF exercises.

How can I be sure that an Open Access journal is genuine?

The vast majority of open access journals offer a genuine alternative to traditional journals. There are, however, a small number of “predatory publishers” who charge authors to publish research, but which are of dubious scholarly value.

A list of potential “predatory publishers” is available from

What should I do if my preferred journal of publication does not offer an Open Access opton?

If your preferred journal does not offer an acceptable open access option, it is worth contacting them to see if the licence terms can be negotiated. It may be possible, for example, for you to retain the copyright over your research (many licence agreements require you to hand this over to the publishers). This would then allow you to make the research available elsewhere, in addition to being published in the journal.

Green OA

Green OA

What is an Open Access repository?

An open access repository collects research outputs and, in line with agreed publishers’ policies, makes them freely available for anyone to read. Repositories may be based at a specific institution (providing access to all the research outputs produced by that institution) or subject based (providing access to research outputs in a particular field).

Does the University of the Highlands and Islands have an institutional repository?

Yes. The Research Database is the university’s institutional repository. It provides free access to the research outputs of the university researchers via the internet.

Why should I deposit in the UHI Research Database?

This helps to promote and share the world class research undertaken at the university increasing an outputs visibility, and potentially enhances both the impact and citation rates There is no harm in depositing in multiple repositories in order to maximise visibility of an author's research, as long as you always use the correct version of the output (not normally the full publisher version or final copy). All self-archived author manuscripts should link to the published version for those readers who can access this if it is behind a paywall.

I already add articles to my personal profile on LinkedIn/ own personal blog. Why should I have to deposit them in the research database?

In the first instance, it is an expectation of the university that all work produced at the university should be openly available from the university repository.

Also, the copyright agreement you signed with the publisher may not permit you to add a copy to these sites, or place restrictions on the version you can use. By doing this, you could be in breach of copyright. 

There are more positive benefits, too. The content on some sites, such as is not easily picked up by non-academic search engines, so your research might not be as visible to non-academics. In addition, many search tools will include content from institutional or subject repositories, but exclude sources such as blogs or personal webpages (or rank them as less important). the Research Database is fully searchable by search engines which means your articles can more easily be found.  Aggregators like Google Scholar and ResearchGate will also be able to discover your outputs from the Research Database so you should only need to add your output once to be discovered through many outlets.

Providing access to your research from as many places as possible is a good idea, but it is best practice to deposit research in the Research Database which can then provide a stable and accessible link to the deposited text which can be included in blogs/profile sites etc. Linking to the published version from your personal blog means that only those readers who can afford to access the article will be able to read it. Linking to the text in the Research Database means anyone can read it, and those who are able can then link through to the published version if required.

What should I do if my preferred journal of publication does not offer an Open Access option?

If your preferred journal does not offer an acceptable open access option, it is worth contacting them to see if the licence terms can be negotiated. It may be possible, for example, for you to retain the copyright over your research (many licence agreements require you to hand this over to the publishers). This would then allow you to make the research available elsewhere, in addition to being published in the journal.

RCUK policy

RCUK policy

What is the new RCUK policy?

All peer‐reviewed research articles (including review articles not commissioned by publishers), which acknowledge Research Council funding and that are submitted for publication from 1st April 2013, and which are published in journals or conference proceedings must comply with the new RCUK Open Access Policy. Specifically, articles must:

  • Include a statement providing details of funding supporting the research;
  • Include a statement, if appropriate, on how underpinning research data can be accessed;
  • Be published in journals which are compliant with Research Council policy on Open Access.

In order for a journal to be compliant with RCUK policy, it must allow the author to:

  • provide, via the journals own website, immediate and unrestricted access to the final published version of the paper, which should be made available using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, if allowed by the publisher. This may involve payment of an ‘Article Processing Charge’ (APC) to the publisher by the author.


  • permit the author to deposit the Author Accepted Manuscript in any repository, without restriction on non-commercial re-use and within period defined by RCUK. No APC will be payable to the publisher by the author."

Further details with regards each of the criteria above are available on our RCUK Open Access Policy pages.

What publications does the policy apply to?

All peer‐reviewed research articles (including review articles not commissioned by publishers), which acknowledge Research Council funding and that are submitted for publication from 1st April 2013, and which are published in journals or conference proceedings must comply with the new RCUK Open Access Policy.

This includes articles authored by a doctoral student in receipt of RCUK funded student award.

What is a CC-BY licence and what does it permit?

A CC-BY licence is an alternative to the more traditional copyright licence. Work published under a CC-BY licence allows anyone to:

  • Copy, distribute or transmit the research
  • Adapt the research
  • Make commercial use of the research

Copyright is usually retained by the author/author's employer. A common alternative is the CC-BY-NC which has the same attributes as above with the additional stipulation of Non-Commercial re-use. Anyone using the research must attribute it in the manner specified by the original author and may not do so in a way which implies the original author endorses the user or their use of the research. The author's moral rights are unaffected.

Under the traditional journal publishing model, the agreements signed with the publishers often require you to transfer copyright to that article to the publisher. They would then act on an author's behalf to defend the copyright of the journal. In return they could re-use or re-sell your work without your permission or knowledge.

The Wellcome Trust has useful further FAQs relating to the CC-BY licence, including some examples of how the research community can make use of the opportunities it provides.

RCUK are asking me to make my research available for commercial re-use - how can they ask me to sign away my copyright in this way?

Under a CC-BY licence you usually retain the copyright on your work. Others are licensed to re-use it only if they credit you as the author. Whilst there is a risk of your research being used for unintended purposes, you retain all moral rights and can require any attribution be removed to the original research.

In traditional journal publishing, the agreements signed with the publishers often require you to hand over all rights to that research to the publisher. They could re-use or re-sell your work without your permission or knowledge.

Allowing re-use of your research under a CC-BY licence gives third parties the opportunity to add value: for example by including your research in their online teaching resources, translating it into new language or analysing it with semantic search tools. All of these activities can increase the impact and citation potential of your research, and will always include an attribution back to you as the original author.

What happens if I decide not, to or feel unable, to comply with RCUK or the publishers policy?

By way of example, failure to comply with the Wellcome Trust's policy may result in having the final grant payment withheld and publications inadmissible in future grant applications. The Wellcome Trust have already factored this requirement in to their grant application process - only articles which can be identified by a Europe PubMed ID can be included in the application.

Reference, background and further reading

Reference, background and further reading

Checking funders and journal requirements:

Sherpa Juliet database of funders open access requirements -

Wellcome requirements - Wellcome have introduced a set of requirements on publishers that they must adhere to to be able to claim any APC payments. It focuses on three key services – depositing, licensing and invoicing, details at 

SHERPA/FACT is a tool to help researchers check if the journals in which they wish to publish comply with their funder's requirements for open access to research - 

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) -

Repository for Open Access Monographs: OAPEN is dedicated to open access, peer-reviewed books. OAPEN operates two platforms, the OAPEN Library (, a central repository for hosting and disseminating OA books, and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB,, a discovery service for OA books.

Checking a journal is REF compliant or checking versions of article that can be added to PURE - 

Publisher copyright policies & self-archiving - 

Publishers Allowing use of their PDFs in Repositories -

Finding/checking for a trusted journal - use Think,Check,Submit

Websites to gain further insight:

RCUK Policy on Open Access -

The Finch Group - The concept of Open Access publication for research outputs from publicly funded research is not new, but it has been growing in significance in recent years as a result of the publication in June 2012 of the report from the National Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings (the ‘Finch Group’).  This explored accessibility, sustainability, excellence, how to expand access to research publications; the UK Government subsequently accepted the report’s recommendations and the UK Research Councils are moving to enforce them.  It is worth noting that as well as publications some Research Councils are extending OA requirements to datasets produced as a result of their funding. Full details including the final report are available from the Research Information Network.

JISC have a dedicated mini website bringing together the latest OA information - 

JISC also have an informative blog running purely on the subject of Open Access - 

The full scope of these regulations, enforced from 1 April 2016, is discussed in the latest information document from JISC.  These are wide ranging changes to the procedures and requirements surrounding publication of research materials and all researchers have a responsibility to ensure they understand how these changes affect them.

OA good practice guidleines from JISC


License information is available at the following pages: ; definition of creative commons licences
For a list of all types of license, past and current, with some information of equivalents please see: