About Open Access

Introduction and background

Open Access to research publications involves making them freely available online rather than charging readers to read and use them. Open Access to research data makes data more widely available for re-use by others to support research, innovation and wider public use.

The University has been operating under funder mandates for Open Access to publications for several years. The Wellcome Trust makes a block grant available for the payment of Article Processing Charges and both Wellcome and a number of other life-sciences funders require article deposit in Europe PubMed Central - an Open Access repository.

In response to the Finch report, RCUK announced a revised Open Access policy on 16 July 2012. The policy requires all RCUK-funded publications submitted for publication after 1 April 2013 to adopt either of the two OA models described below. The Government will provide the University with £1.15 million to be spent on Article Processing Charges (APCs) to pay for research to be published in Open Access journals under the Gold Open Access scheme.

HEFCE has promised a consultation on Open Access implementation early in 2013. The 2014 REF is not affected, but subsequent REFs may have Open Access requirements.

Open Access models

There are two main models of OA:

  • Green OA: the author deposits articles accepted for publication in an online repository, often institutional repositories managed by research institutes and HEIs.
  • Gold OA: published material is made available immediately by the journal publisher in return for an article processing charge (APC).

University Policy

The General Board has set up a Project Board to manage the transition to Open Access. Membership of the Project Board and the current team can be found on the 'About Us' page. The policy framework adopted by the Project Board is:

Open Access Policy Framework

i. The University of Cambridge is committed to disseminating its research and scholarship as widely as possible. In keeping with that commitment, it supports the principle that ‘the results of research that have been publicly funded should be freely accessible in the public domain’ and therefore it supports its staff in making their research available through Open Access (OA).

ii. The University affirms that academics should not be deterred from publishing in the journal of their choice.

iii. The University recommends Green OA (self-archiving) as the most cost-effective, sustainable way to achieve greater public access to research outputs and supports Green OA through the development of its institutional repository, or through subject based repositories and other open websites.

iv. The University will support Gold OA, whereby the author is usually required to pay an Article Processing Charge to publish in an OA journal, only where funding is made available for this purpose by the research funder.

v. The University supports the use of the widest form of licensing so that the article may be read and re-used. CC-BY is currently required by the published RCUK policy; this allows articles to be read and re-used for both non-commercial and commercial purposes.

vi. Funder mandates are evolving and this framework may need regular review.


If you have questions please email us at info@openaccess.cam.ac.uk.