Open Access Week 2020

What is open access?

Open access refers to the free and unrestricted access to literature. In other words, making your research available open access means your research is available online with no cost to the reader, and is free of most licencing restrictions.

Open access is part of the open research movement. Open research, or ‘open science’ as it is also known, includes openness throughout the research cycle. To learn more about the open research movement, head to our open research guide.

Open access is arguably the most well-known strand of open research. This is partly due most funders requiring research outputs to be made available for free to maximise the benefits of the research. Open access is also a requirement for submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

What is open access week?

Open access week is a global event that aims to show the academic and research community the potential benefits of open access, and to help inspire wider participation in the goal of making open access the new norm for research. Open access week also aims to highlight the wide reaching benefits of open access in academia, medicine, science, industry, and society as a whole.

“Openness can be a powerful tool for building more equitable systems of sharing knowledge.”

Nick Shockey, 2020

The theme of this year’s open access week is Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion. On this theme, the open access week team have said:

“Openness can be a powerful tool for building more equitable systems of sharing knowledge. Rebuilding research and scholarship to be open by default presents a unique opportunity to construct a foundation that is fundamentally more equitable. Yet today, structural racism, discrimination, and exclusion are present and persistent in places where openness is a core value. As a global community, it is important to understand that the systems and spaces of the present are often built upon legacies of historic injustice and that addressing these inequities is a necessity.”

Take a look at their website to read more about this vital work.

Where can I learn more about open access?

We’ve created a range of resources that you can use to learn more about open access.

Open Research Guide

Head to our website and take a look at our open research guide. This guide includes pages on the open research movement, open access specifically, guidance on publishing open access with no additional costs, and links to some great open access resources.

The puzzling hunt for open access

If you are new to open access, or if you’d like a fun refresher, a great place to start is our Puzzling Hunt for Open Access, created by Hannah Pyman. In this puzzle-based online tutorial, based on the Open Access Escape Room created by Katrine Sundsbo, the villain has locked down all research at Essex! Through solving a range of puzzles, it’s your job to unlock all research again. Think you have what it takes?! Have a go now, and compare your score to your friends’ and colleagues’!

The open access jargon buster – explained

The open access jargon buster is a great resource created by Sarah Humphreys at the Bodleian Social Sciences library. Using this model, we have created a short video that explains the ins and outs of the open access publishing process, and helps to shed a light on some of the terminology used throughout.

An introduction to open access tutorial

Work through this online tutorial to get a more in-depth introduction to open access. Through watching videos, exploring external websites, and answering questions, you will learn more about:

  • What open access is, and why it is important
  • Ways to find open access content
  • Ways to publish open access
  • Research funders
  • Plan S

Finding open access content for your reading lists

If you are a lecturer, adding open access resources to your reading lists is a great way to ensure all of your students have access to all of the resources they need. Take a look at our website to find out more!

What’s changed at Essex this year in open access?

Read and publish deals

This year, we have so far signed two read and publish deals (also known as transformative deals) with academic publishers. Read and publish deals are blanket agreements with academic publishers that cover both the subscription to the journal (the “read” aspect), and the open access publishing cost (the “publish” aspect). These deals therefore allow authors from the University of Essex to publish gold open access at no extra cost, regardless of whether their work is funded.

At Essex, we currently have deals of this nature with the publishers Wiley and SAGE. As a result of these deals, 62 papers have been published open access this year (as of 13th October) with no extra cost to the author. The breakdown of this data can be seen below. You can also see a list of the most recent research published under these deals, and can find out more information, on our open access publishing page.

Pie chart showing number of papers published under the WIley read and publish deal, broken down by department.
Number of papers publishing under the Wiley read and publish deal by department (data from 13/10/2020)
Pie chart showing number of papers published under the SAGE read and publish deal, broken down by department.
Number of papers publishing under the SAGE read and publish deal by department (data from 13/10/2020)

The Essex Student Journal

This year has also seen great change in the diamond open access publishing landscape at Essex, as earlier this month we officially relaunched the Essex Student Journal (previously ESTRO) on a new publishing platform. The Essex Student Journal is a diamond open access multi-disciplinary journal that publishes essays, research papers, and case studies primarily written by undergraduate students at the University of Essex. These papers are then peer reviewed by PhD students at Essex.

In being run by students, for students, the Essex Student Journal gives students at Essex an insight into the world of scholarly publishing, providing invaluable experience. In addition, as all published works are given DOIs, being published in the Essex Student Journal is a great addition to students’ CVs. More information about submission and how to become a peer reviewer can be found on our website.

This Friday (23rd October) we’re hosting an event to celebrate the much anticipated relaunch of the Essex Student Journal. Held via Zoom, this informal celebratory event will include a quiz, scavenger hunt, and musical performance. Book you place online now!

For more information…

If you have any questions about open access specifically, open research more generally, or anything else related to this post please do get in touch via

You can also find us on social media @UniEssexLibrary


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