Published 10 February 2022

Open access book policy landscape

Institutions and funders increasingly require that researchers make their books openly available in order to maximise the impact of the research they support. Open access policies vary considerably, so you should check what requirements apply to you prior to choosing a publisher to ensure that they can comply.

Many universities, government agencies and research funders have open access policies that encourage or require researchers to make their work openly available. These policies help ensure public access to publicly funded research and maximise the value of investment in research by ensuring that more readers can access research results and scholarship than if the works were available through restricted means alone (Rubow, 2015).

In the past, many open access policies applied only to journal articles, but organisations increasingly require open access for scholarly books as well. Open access policies, recommendations or mandates for books tend to be less restrictive than those for journal publishing, more flexible about licence type and embargo periods, and less rigorously enforced (Collins, 2018).

Open access book policies can be found worldwide, but are most common amongst European funders and European and US institutions (See Research institutions).

What sort of requirements might apply to me and my book?

Typically you will be required either to deposit a manuscript version of your book in a repository (self-archiving), or to make the final published version of your book open access. However, funders’ open access book policies consider many dimensions of the publishing process.

Scope of policyPolicies may include monographs, edited collections, book chapters or any combination of these; they may also be different for different kinds of book.
Maximum embargo periodThe maximum embargo period for open access may range from nothing (if publication is funded) to several months or even years.
Funding availableFunding that is available to underpin the costs of open access book publishing may be time-limited and unavailable once the original research grant is closed. Conversely, some funders will support the costs of open access books even if those books are based on research they did not fund.
Licence (If gold OA)Funders may require a specific Creative Commons licence, or may simply state the licence conditions that are acceptable.
Self-archiving of author manuscriptSome funders may require this; policies may differ based on how the original publication was funded.
RepositoryDeposit in a repository may be required - the funder may or may not specify the repository to be used.
Deposit timing and processPolicies around deposit may vary depending on whether gold or green open access is used. Author, publishers or both may be responsible for deposit.

‘Characteristics of OA monograph policies’ © Collins (2018), used under a CC BY 4.0 licence.1

How do I know if a policy applies to me?2

  • Publication type: You should check not only whether your institution and funder’s open access policies apply to books, but also the kinds of book content to which they apply. For example, does the policy apply to all peer-reviewed book content, or does it only apply to research monographs or chapters in edited collections?
  • Role: You should check whether your role within the organisation affects how the policy applies to you. For example, a university’s open access policy may or may not apply to publications authored by students.
  • Grant programme: Funders’ open access policies may apply to particular grant programmes.
  • Policy implementation date: Publications may fall within the scope of a policy depending on the timeframe of certain factors such as the date of grant application or award, or the date of submission, acceptance, or publication.

How does this affect my publishing decisions?

When deciding where to publish your book, you should check that your preferred publisher’s open access options and policies will allow you to meet your funder’s requirements (See How to choose a publisher for your open access book).

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Last edited on 10 February 2022, at 16:19 (+0000)