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Open Access in Practice: A Practical Guide for Researchers


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Open Access has become mainstream. We hear a lot of talk about it, but are often not sure how it really affects us as South African researchers or how much agency we have in the context of increasingly competitive research environments. How do you balance imperatives around increasing access to your work with institutional pressures to publish in high-status journals? This presentation will provide some practical pointers on how you can take steps to be more proactive in addressing your visibility, curating your outputs, and managing your intellectual property rights for maximum impact and visibility. Presentation delivered to the South African Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) as part of its Open Access Week 2014 proceedings.

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Open Access in Practice: A Practical Guide for Researchers

  1. 1. Open Access in Practice: A Real-World Guide for Researchers Presentation to the South African Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Open Access Week, 20 October 2014 CC-BY
  2. 2. BEFORE WE GET STARTED >>> This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. That means you are free to download, copy, remix or do just about anything you like with it, but you are also legally required to acknowledge Michelle Willmers as the creator. If you would like to view a copy of the license or understand more about how CC licensing works, visit
  3. 3. Open Access is mainstream, okay?
  4. 4. Plus… We are operating in an internet-driven scholarly communication paradigm in which notion of Impact is being re-examined: IMPACT = RE-USE
  5. 5. Q: How do we make sense of and enact Open Access in our local context while navigating: 1. Competitive environment 2. Pressure to “publish in the right places” 3. Reputation management
  6. 6. THE ACCESS GOLDEN TRIANGLE Visibility Access Curation Rights Management
  7. 7. 1. Visibility In order for people to be able to access your work it needs to be visible (IDEALLY in a shareable format)
  8. 8. > In internet-driven, networked scholarship visibility of the individual researchers is intrinsically bound up with visibility of research > You have an online shadow, whether you like it or not. Manage and optimise your footprint! (And your reputation) > Engage with and explore your online network through social media channels and online sharing environments like ResearchGate and
  9. 9. Available at:
  10. 10. 2. Curation In order for your work to be optimally visible (discoverable and searchable) it needs to be curated
  11. 11. 3 simple principles of curation 1. Describe with rich metadata This will help people make sense of your resource online, boost the findability of your resource, and enable semantic linking to boost citation 2. Share via online repositories Use online independent individual (e.g. FigShare) or subject-oriented (e.g. SSOAR, RePEc) repos if your organisation doesn’t have one 3. Archive Investigate institutional support structures or private cloud storage. Check SHERPA-ROMEO to ascertain archiving policies of journals. > Once you have your content curated, promote it! > Get cosy with your librarian
  12. 12. Available at:
  13. 13. Curated material will have handles, DOIs (digital object identifiers) and other URIs (unique resource identifiers) that will enable: > Machines to identify semantic relationships between online content (linking papers to data sets, citation management) > Usage of free, online Altmetric tools to track downstream use of your content (including but not limited to formal citation)
  14. 14. Popular Altmetric tools < >
  15. 15. Available at:
  16. 16. 3. Rights management In order for people to be able to re-use your work they need a sense of what they are legally allowed to do
  17. 17. Creative Commons (and other open) licenses provide indicators or signposts as to what you can and can’t do with content
  18. 18. > At all costs: Avoid relinquishing your copyright or signing exclusive copyright transfer agreements (unless you have good reason and have considered all the ramifications) > Creative Commons licensing is NOT relinquishing copyright, it is system of articulating “exceptions” to your full copyright (in which all rights are reserved) > CC licensing means people can act legally without bugging you for permission > Manage rights on all your outputs! (Not just formally published content). If organisational policy is restrictive in terms of formal publication, exercise agency in the “informal” sphere by sharing working papers, policy briefs, blog posts, etc. (grey literature)
  19. 19. Does your organisation restrict your publication activity or dictate to in terms of only being able to publish in certain journals? If so, seek out the Open Access options ( Where this not possible/desirable, explore options within closed, “paywalled” publication channels: > Is my publisher open to negotiation on the publication agreement for more flexible release provisions? > How do the self-archiving provisions of your publication options compare? (
  20. 20. rs/addendum
  21. 21. Conclusion > Engaging with your visibility, curation of your output and rights management is part of professionalising your scholarly practice > Always check organisational policy > Caveat scriptor! (Be aware of what you sign) > Exercise your agency > Engage with your librarian
  22. 22. @scaprogramme