Open Access Publishing

The purpose of scientific research is to produce new information for the society’s use. However, it can be hard for the general public to access much of the research, as scientific articles are often published in paid scientific journals. For example, only university staff and students can make full use of the content of paid scientific journals. In other words, a great deal of scientific information is behind a paywall, which makes it much more difficult for companies, other organisations and communities alike to utilise scientific information. However, culture is changing: at the University of Eastern Finland, for example, about 60% of publications are openly available, and many scientific articles become open after six months of embargo.

Open science and research are a way of promoting the visibility and impact of science in society. The objective of open science is to make research materials, methods and results accessible for all interested parties. Openness offers opportunities but also requires new type of expertise from the researchers to manage research information and research processes, along with readiness to open their research work and its results. 

Benefits of open science 

  • improves the accessibility of research results and the transparency of research 
  • accelerates innovation, business and collaboration 
  • saves resources 
  • promotes equality 
  • enables the rise of new research questions 
  • helps develop critical thinking and scientific literacy in society 

Open access (OA) publications are free to access and use by anyone without needing to compensate for their use, or without needing log in to a university network, for instance.

There are three ways in which the articles of a scientific journal can be made available to readers:

  • the entire journal is made open access
  • individual articles of a paid journal are given open access
  • the publication has been self-archived, for example, in the university’s publication archive 

There can be different versions of the same publication online, such as:

  • Final version approved for a journal, for example, with the publisher’s layout (Version of record / Publishers PDF)
  • Peer-reviewed version approved by a publisher without the publisher’s layout (Final draft / Author accepted manuscript)
  • Manuscript yet to be peer-reviewed (Pre-print)

Being free to use does not mean free overall. The publishing and editing of journals require money, even if they are published online. In the open access model, the author of an article pays the so-called author fee (aka article processing charge). Thus, no payments are required from the reader.

Self-archiving in organisations 

It is possible to save articles that are behind paywalls into a content repository, from which they can be openly accessed with a possible delay compared to the original publishing.

UEF eRepository (eRepo) is the repository used by UEF. You can use it to search for self-archived versions of articles published by UEF researchers. The actual and paid versions of the articles have usually been published elsewhere. You can find a link to eRepo from UEF Primo, but individual articles must be retrieved separately from eRepo.

There is a principle in the Finnish science and publishing world that research funded by public funds should be openly accessible to everyone. See  OKM:n tiedote 13.6.2017 (announcement by the Ministry of Education and Culture, not available in English). If a publication is not given open access initially, it must at the very least be saved into a repository.

Researchers have an active role in peer-to-peer distribution 

Researchers may also display their articles on their own websites or through academic networking services, such as ResearchGate or Zenodo, for instance.

In case this is not possible due to copyrights, a copy of an article can be requested directly from the author.

Books and theses can also be published open access 

Books can also be published through the Open access format.

Theses, and doctoral dissertations in particular, are often open access. As a student, you can actively contribute to open science by publishing your master’s thesis as an open access publication.