We all know open access journals like PLOS or BMC. But next to publishing in one of these there is another way to make your paper freely accessible – it’s called self archiving – the green route to open access!
But what exactly does self-archiving mean?When you self-archive your article, you make it freely-accessible online, usually by placing it in a repository (institutional or subject-based) or on a personal server. Yet many authors miss this chance to improve their work’s visibility because they believe self-archiving is prohibited by the publisher. In most cases this assumption is false. Nearly 90% of journals allow authors to make versions of their papers accessible online – and as self-archiving gains momentum, this figure only continues to increase. Moreover, many publishers who do not yet openly allow for self-archiving will grant the author permission upon request.
Sometimes authors mistake self-archiving with self-publishing and avoid it because they don’t want to be associated with the vanity press. But these two procedures are completely unrelated – self-archiving simply means increasing the availability of an already-published work. The integrity of the peer-review process and other quality control measures connected to publishing in a journal is maintained.
There are three main places to self-archive:
In an institutional repository:Many universities or other research institutions host their own repositories for the preservation and dissemination of their intellectual output. Although many institutions have them, these repositories are frequently underutilized, often because of lack of funding.
In a subject-based repository:More common is archiving in a subject-based repository. These repositories, such as PubMed Central or RePEc, restrict themselves to certain fields, where they are usually very prominent. Many are also long established – arXiv, for example, predates the world wide web.
On a personal homepage:You can also place your work on your own website or server – ResearchGate profile pages, included in this category, are free of charge and can be set up here.
What are the restrictions for self-archiving?According to publishers’ definitions, a paper can exist in three forms.
The pre-print version is the version the author submits for peer-review. Once the article has been reviewed and the author has made any corresponding revisions, it becomes the post-print version. The publisher’s version is then the text after it has been copyedited, formatted and had all the reference links added. For online journals, this version might be quite different from the PDF of the same text if there are many links and interactive tables.
As the author, you are often allowed to:
Self-archive both pre-print and post-print versions, though sometimes only the pre-print version is allowed. If that is the case, you may attach a corrigenda so that the changes made during peer-reviewing accompany the work. Occasionally, you may even self-archive the publisher’s version.
Which version you may use and the conditions for its release depend on the publisher’s policies. Legally, authors have all copyrights to their pre-print texts (unless they have specifically sold these and will receive royalties for them – this is not the case with peer-reviewed research, for which the author is paid nothing and there is no royalty revenue). While some journals forbid the self-archiving of a pre-print version – which is a matter of policy and not copyright – their numbers are rapidly declining.
Restrictions on post-print and publisher’s versions are matters of copyright – the transfer of the rights are bound to these post peer-review versions. Yet over 60% of the journals do allow the post-print version to be self-archived. More may grant permission upon request.
Why self-archiving?Self-archiving is a cost-free way to make your publications more visible. By improving access to your articles, you can help increase the citations your research receives and improve your position in the field.
But self-archiving is not only for the benefit of the author – by making your work freely accessible, you give back to the field and aid new research. Indeed, this greater community benefit is the reason behind the recent mandates for public access that many funding bodies and institutions have established (including the NIH, Wellcome Trust and the UK Research Councils). More and more, open access is part of grant requirements, usually because public sources fund the projects and the managing institutions believe that the public deserves access to the research they helped facilitate.
Here is how you can self archive your papers:Log in to your ResearchGate account.
Find your paper with our Literature Search Engine. If you are allowed to upload your article, a note will appear (otherwise you will see nothing). Now, simply click on the green "upload fulltext" button.
Go to the Publication menu on your profile page. Import your publication and look for the note telling you that you may upload it (if you aren't allowed, no note will appear). After you have added the publication to your list, you can upload the corresponding full-text. Simply click on the green upload button.
self archiving open access