Published 12 July 2024

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

An open access policy checklist for authors

The following elements need to checked to make sure that you understand whether your funder or institution’s open access policy requirements apply to you:

  • Does the open access policy apply to books, and more specifically, does your manuscript fall within the definition of books as described in the policy? Usually, policies are restricted to peer reviewed books and chapters from edited collections that contain original research; they might not apply to text-books for instance, and some policies allow exceptions

  • Does the policy apply to you as author? Policies can make exceptions, for instance in cases where a manuscript is authored by a student rather than a researcher

  • What grant programme applies to your manuscript? Policies are often restricted to specific grant programmes

  • When was the policy implemented? Your manuscript may or may not fall within the timeframe of the policy, and this can relate to the grant application, or the date of submission, acceptance or publication of your manuscript.

Finally, when it is clear what requirements from your funder or institution apply to your book or chapter, you should check:

  • Does your preferred publisher agree to comply with these requirements (See How to choose a publisher for your open access book).

  • If not, does your institution have a rights retention policy? This is a non-exclusive licence to your work, including the right to make the accepted manuscript available under a CC licence. It ensures that your work can be self-archived in accordance with any open access policies that may apply to you.

Creative Commons License
This article is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Last edited on 12 July 2024, at 11:19 (+0000)