How open access can ensure your students can access their module readings

What is open access?

Open access (OA) refers to the free and unrestricted access to literature; in other words, making research available online with no cost to the reader. Many researchers will be familiar with using or publishing OA material, but it is also a useful way to make important and up-to-date research easily available to students to support them in their modules. 

Why is open access important for my students?

This is the time of year when teaching staff will be updating their reading lists ready for the next academic year, and as part of this the Library wants to promote OA resources as an excellent source of academic content that is available online with no access restrictions. Given the current climate, using OA resources is more important than ever to ensure that students can access all of their resources online. 

Why should I use open access content on my reading list?

Using OA resources on your reading lists means that: 

  • All students can access the resource online when they need to, without any restrictions. 
  • Access is permanent, so if the institutional subscription changes it will not affect the OA content.
  • Students will be able to access material before the course starts or after they leave university, as they will not rely on institutional subscriptions.
  • You can add pre-prints to your reading list to be discussed in class, as these are early OA versions that haven’t been published or gone through a peer review process yet.
  • You are promoting good practice to potential future researchers through showcasing the benefits of publishing OA. 
  • In using OA resources, you are highlighting a wider range of resources from a wider range of researchers.
  • OA resources are shared under creative commons licences, meaning there is less cause for concern around potential copyright restrictions preventing you from adding the material to your reading list. 
  • If you add OA resources to your reading list, there will be no delay between adding them to the list and your students accessing them, as the Library does not need to purchase the resource. This is especially helpful when adding resources to your list throughout the year.

How can I find open access content?

Many suppliers and publishers make content available OA, and the Library has pulled together some of the best places to look. This is available on our Open Access content guide.  

Our Academic Liaison Librarians have also created some faculty-specific webinars to help you identify OA resources to use in your reading lists. These webinars explore some of the best places to go for each discipline to find OA resources, opening up content that you may not have previously considered. The Open Access content guide has links to these recordings.

If you would like any help in identifying specific OA resources for your reading list, please do get in touch using our contact page

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