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Making research open access so that it can be read, re-used and built upon is seen as a key part of the research lifecycle by many funders, and SGUL's approach is outlined in our Open Access Publications policy. This page answers some common questions about open access, the glossary explains key terms used, and the decision tree takes you through the various stages for publication.

Applying for funds for open access publication fees

For REF, SGUL require deposit of the final author accepted manuscript in CRIS for SORA, please see REF 2021 Open Access Policy  No fees are necessary to comply with the REF open access policy.

If you think open access charges may be incurred,  the application form and guidance information for this can now be found on our Paying Open Access Fees web page.  Applications must be submitted before a manuscript is submitted to a publisher.  This is to allow the library to conduct the preliminary checks required.


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Open Access Glossary

Article processing charge (APC) 

A payment made to the publisher prior to publication so that the published output is freely available, usually under an open access licence (see “CC licence” below), immediately on publication via the publisher’s website. Note that these are in addition to any standard page or colour image charges.  

Author’s accepted manuscript (AAM) 

See “post-print”  

Author’s final version 

See “post-print”  

Block grant 

This refers to a sum of money provided directly to an institution by a funder or group of funders (e.g. UKRI or the British Heart Foundation) in order to support open access publication and enable compliance with funder open access policies. It is typically used to pay article processing charges but depending on the conditions of the grant may also be used to support other costs associated with open access publication.   

Book processing charge (BPC)

A payment made to the publisher prior to publication so that the online version of the published book will be freely accessible immediately upon publication, usually under an open access license (see “CC licence”). May be levied on a chapter basis. Other charges (eg for extra colour images) may also apply.

Bronze open access 

Articles that are free to read on the publisher's website but are still published under the publisher's standard terms and conditions. These articles are typically not published under an open licence that would allow for re-use and the publisher can choose to make these articles closed access again at any time.  

cOAlition S 

cOAlition S is a consortium of funders, organisations and charitable funders who have agreed to implement the ten recommendations of Plan S in an organised way.   

Funders involved include UKRI, Wellcome Trust, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  

Corresponding author 

The corresponding author is the author who takes responsibility for the manuscript during the submission, peer review and publication process, on behalf of their co-authors. Their contact details appear on the final publication so they can be contacted for any queries about the paper.  

Importantly, eligibility for Read and Publish deals (see below) is usually based on the affiliation of the corresponding author: for an article to be eligible for one of SGUL’s Read and Publish deals, the corresponding author must be a current student or member of staff at SGUL, or a member of the Trust with honorary status at SGUL.   

Some publishers, e.g. Wiley, require assignment of a single “responsible corresponding author” to act on behalf of all the co-authors, which may have implications for manuscripts with multiple corresponding authors.  

Creative Commons (CC) licence 

The Creative Commons (or CC) licences are some of the most commonly used open access licences. If one of the CC licences is applied to your work, this identifies exactly what re-use rights are allowed. There are different types of CC licences, some more restrictive than others. All but one require that your work be correctly cited and attributed to you.  

The CC0 (public domain) licence is the most open, the CC BY-NC-ND is the most restrictive and there are several other options in between: 

CC (CC licences explained ©Foter (adapted by Jisc) via Foter blog CC BY-SA

 Many funders require that you make publications arising from work they have funded, either in whole or in part, available under a specific type of CC licence. Several major funders specifically require CC-BY.  


Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) is a predefined set of 14 roles describing typical types of activities in the research and publishing process, intended to enable authors to represent how they have contributed to a scholarly output in a standardised way.  

An example of how these roles might be used in practice can be found in this document (PDF) from the Academy of Medical Sciences.  


SGUL’s Current Research Information System (CRIS) is a researcher-facing system holding metadata on publications authored by current and former SGUL researchers. It collects information about these publications from external data sources such as PubMed and allows authors to create their own manual records for their publications.  

 Authors are also able to upload/deposit full text versions of their publications via the CRIS. These are hosted and, where possible, made publicly available in SGUL’s repository, SORA.  

Diamond open access 

Diamond open access, sometimes called platinum open access, means that the published version of an article is made freely accessible via the publisher's website under an open access licence, but without charging a fee to the authors or their institutions.  

As neither the author or reader is charged directly, diamond open access publications usually rely on external funding sources, such as grants, donations or advertising.  


The Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) is a tool for indexing and accessing open access books and book publishers, established by the OAPEN Foundation. Both are not for profit. Unlike the OAPEN Library, (which provides open infrastructure services including hosting), DOAB indexes open access books rather than hosting them directly.

To be included, books must have undergone independent and external peer review, must be open access, and must meet academic standards. Publishers are also screened for trustworthiness before inclusion.

You can use Think, Check, Submit to help you assess if a publisher is trustworthy and suitable for your research.


The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a non-profit organisation which indexes open access journals. In order to be indexed, journals need to apply and meet DOAJ’s inclusion criteria. These include the use of an open license (Creative Commons or equivalent), and open access without embargo period or a requirement for users to register to read content. This means that if a journal is listed in DOAJ, it has met certain standards of openness and trustworthiness.

You can use Think, Check, Submit to help you assess if a journal is trustworthy and right for your research .



A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is an identifier that uniquely distinguishes one digital output from another. It is a permanent ID for digital material (similar to ISBN identifiers for books).  

A DOI can be used to identify specific datasets, software, publications or other research outputs.  

Europe PubMed Central (EPMC) 

Europe PubMed Central (also known as Europe PMC or EPMC) is a repository containing open access biomedical research works. Much of its full text content is mirrored from PubMed Central (PMC). However, EPMC also contains citation-only records, information on grants awarded by its funders, and full text pre-prints, which are searchable alongside published journal articles.  

In addition, EMPC allows principal investigators supported by one or more of its funders to submit their author’s accepted manuscripts directly. Many of its funders require full text versions of articles which they have supported to be made available in EPMC.  

Gold open access 

Gold open access means that the published version of the research is made available on a freely accessible basis via the publisher’s website immediately on publication, in perpetuity, with at least some re-use rights permitted, usually under a CC licence (see above).  

This usually requires the payment of an open access fee, often referred to as an article processing charge (APC).  

The term ‘gold’ may also be used to refer to journals that operate on a totally open access model, for example, PLOS One, the Frontiers group of journals and Nucleic Acids Research. The funding model of such journals means that all content is accessible for free, publishing costs being met by, for example, author payments or institutional deals.  

Green open access 

Green open access means making the author’s accepted manuscript of a published research output available via an institutional or subject repository, without paying a fee. The publisher may also require an embargo period (usually six to twelve months) before the article can be made available.  

Some funders require a rights retention statement (RRS) to be included in the manuscript on submission in order to facilitate green open access (see below).  

Hybrid open access 

This usually describes a journal which operates under a subscription-based model, but also gives the option for individual articles to be published gold open access upon payment of an article processing charge (APC).  

Institutional repository 

An institutional repository is a digital archive that makes available full-text, open access copies of articles by authors at that institution. These will usually be the author's accepted manuscript or final published versions. Citation-only records may also be made available depending on the institution's policies.  

SGUL’s institutional repository is SORA.  

Open access publishing platform 

This is a general term referring to platforms such as Wellcome Open Research or Gates Open Research where researchers can upload their outputs and have them made available immediately. An article processing charge (APC) may be required. They differ from traditional journals in several ways:  

  • Outputs are made available immediately in preprint form (after rapid initial pre-publication checks). 

  • Peer review is then carried out openly by the community, with revised versions being added by the authors to the record as they are available. 

  • Once the output has reached a certain threshold of “approved” or “approved with reservations” reviews, it is then indexed in bibliographic databases as a final published journal article would be. Authors can continue to add further revised versions after this point if they choose. 

  • All work is accepted regardless of perceived interest or novelty and a wide variety of output types can be published. 

  • Outputs may be compiled into collections but are not assigned a volume or issue.  


ORCID stands for Open Researcher and Contributor ID. It is a free, unique persistent identifier (PID) for individuals that can be used across different information systems to disambiguate authors and their outputs. This ensures that publications and other activities are correctly attributed to the individual author.  

An increasing number of publishers and funders now require the use of ORCiDs; for more on why, Wellcome Trust have published a blog post on why they support adoption of this ID standard.  


A persistent identifier, or PID, is a term for any long-lasting, unique reference that points to a digital entity. It permits digital materials to be referenced reliably and permanently, even if their location and metadata change. ORCiDs and DOIs are types of persistent identifier.  

Plan S 

Plan S is an open science initiative intending to accelerate transformation towards an open science environment. Where funders have signed up to Plan S, work acknowledging these funders must be made available open access immediately on publication, preferably under a CC BY licence, by either:  

  • publishing via the gold route either via a Read and Publish deal or by paying the article processing charge (APC) in a compliant journal, or 

  • including a rights retention statement (RRS) on submission to the journal, allowing the author to make their author’s accepted manuscript available immediately on publication under a CC BY licence, usually in a subject or institutional repository.  

Platinum open access 

See "Diamond open access"   


The pre-proof version of a paper as accepted for publication, including any changes following peer review, but prior to publisher typesetting, formatting and copyright statements. Also known as the author’s accepted manuscript (AAM) or author’s final version.  


A version of an article as submitted to a journal, or preprint server, but prior to peer review changes. Preprints are not currently deposited in SGUL’s institutional repository but there are many preprint specific platforms that house them (see below). Articles uploaded to a preprint server can be recorded in CRIS and may be linked to any subsequent publication.  

Preprint servers 

Preprint servers are free online archive and distribution platforms for preprints, often focusing on a particular subject area (e.g. bioRxiv, medRxiv). They allow authors to make their findings available immediately and receive feedback on them from the community.  

Like open access publishing platforms (see above), preprints are made available on these servers after a basic screening process only and are published regardless of perceived interest or novelty. However, unlike open access platforms, revised versions can only be posted until the article has been formally accepted by a journal.  

Most publishers do not consider release of a preprint to count as prior publication but some do; this information should be available in their instructions to authors. Some publishers now also host their own preprint servers (e.g. Preprints with The Lancet).   

Publisher version 

The final post-proof version of an article as published, including final formatting and copyediting. Also known as the Version of Record.  

A publisher may also publish an early manuscript version online after acceptance but before the final published version is available. Some publishers consider this to be the accepted manuscript version (see “post-print”), others do not (e.g. Elsevier, who refer to these versions as “pre-proofs”).  

PubMed Central 

PubMed Central (or PMC) is a subject repository holding open access copies of biomedical and life sciences journal articles, hosted by the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NLM).    

It is distinct from PubMed, also developed and maintained by the NLM, which only holds citations and abstracts, with links to publisher websites and open access copies in PMC where available.    

Europe PubMed Central (see above) is a partner of PubMed Central.   

Read and Publish deal 

A Read & Publish deal is a contractual arrangement negotiated between institutions and publishers, whereby the traditional journal subscription (the ‘read’ element) also incorporates Article Processing Charges (the ‘publish’ element). Under such agreements SGUL Library pays for access to read journals as well as for our authors to publish their articles on an open access basis, subject to eligibility criteria.   

Similar agreements exist with wholly open access publishers, whereby institutions pay a fee to the publisher in order for their authors to publish open access in some or all of that publisher’s journals. 

These are also known as transformative or transitional agreements, as they are intended to transition the scholarly publishing landscape towards a fully open access model.  

Please see our Paying Open Access Fees page for further details on our current deals and any eligibility requirements.  

Responsible corresponding author  

See “Corresponding author” 

Rights retention statement (RRS) 

A rights retention statement (or RRS) is a statement inserted into the submitted version of a manuscript to affirm that the author’s accepted manuscript (AAM) arising from this submission is licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence. This allows the author to make their AAM available in a repository immediately on publication under CC BY.  

Several major funders now require these statements to be included on submission, including UKRI and the Wellcome Trust; please see our UKRI FAQs and our Wellcome Trust page for further details.   


St George’s Online Research Archive (SORA) is SGUL’s institutional repository. It hosts and makes publicly available copies of the author’s accepted manuscript and final published versions of many publications authored by current and former SGUL-affiliated authors.  

Subject repository 

A subject repository is a digital archive that makes available full text copies of publications in that subject area, e.g. Europe PMC. Some subject repositories also make citation-only records available.  

Submitted version 

The manuscript version of an article as submitted to the publisher for consideration for publication. Some funders require a rights retention statement to be included at this stage (see above).  

Transformative agreement  

See “Read and Publish deal”  

Transitional agreement  

See “Read and Publish deal”  

Transformative journal 

A transformative journal is a subscription-based journal which has committed to transitioning to be fully open access. An increasing number of funders will now only allow their funds to be used to pay article processing charges (APCs) in transformative journals. This includes UKRI and the Wellcome Trust; please see our UKRI FAQs and our Wellcome Trust page for further details.  

Version of record 

See “Publisher version”  






Open Access Decision Tree

This decision tree has been developed with input from academic members of the SGUL Research Publications and Data Management Group, as a guide for the various stages of the publication process. It is also available as an interactive Microsoft Form version . If you have any feedback, or if you have questions that are not answered by this tool, please let us know.

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1: Before you publish
If you are thinking about publishing, have a look at things to consider first.
2: Choosing where to publish (preprint or journal)
If you are thinking about preprinting, or ready to consider journal publication, these steps will help you understand your open access options.
3: Paying open access fees
If you think there may be fees involved with publishing open access, especially if you are funded, investigate before you commit
4: Submitting a manuscript for publication
If you are getting ready to submit, use this as a handy submission checklist.  
5: On acceptance and on publication of your manuscript
Through acceptance and publication, there are things you can do to help make your paper openly available, and noticed.

Frequently asked questions

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What is open access?

Open access (OA) is the practice of making scholarly material (eg journal articles, book chapters) freely available via the internet. Institutional and subject repositories are collections of open access research, and preserve the material on a long-term basis. There are currently over 250 institutional or departmental repositories in the UK (OpenDOAR), including St George’s, University of London institutional repository called SORA (St George's Online Research Archive). SORA is publicly accessible and holds details of publications written by St George’s authors.

Additionally, there are also open access subject repositories such as Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC – formerly UK PubMed Central) where researchers can deposit their research outputs.

A useful introduction to open access is provided by Jisc (Joint Information Systems Committee).
Does St George's have a policy on open access?
St George’s position on open access is contained in our Open Access Publications policy. This requires that published outputs be available on an open access basis in full text via St George’s institutional repository, SORA (where publishers’ copyright agreements allow), and that St George’s researchers should comply with the publication policies of research funders with regards to open access.
Am I obliged to publish my research as open access?

Many research funders will have policies regarding making published outputs available on an open access basis. If in any doubt, please check with your funder(s). 

You can view a list of the Europe PubMed Central funding organisations who expect research outputs arising from research that they have funded to be made freely and readily available. There is also a list of research funders with open access information at SHERPA JULIET, or for advice please email the library.

I'm the author, can't I make my work available online if I want to?

The rights you retain over your work can vary considerably. When you or your co-authors sign a copyright transfer agreement or a licence form, this can mean many re-use rights are at the publisher’s discretion. You can check what rights are granted back to you by checking these agreements, and there will usually be a copyright statement on the published version which should indicate who holds the copyright and what the permitted reuse rights are. If the work contains any third party copyright material, it is your responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright holders to reproduce the work.

This blog post from cOAlition-S (2021) outlines some of the issues authors typically face when trying to share their work, and approaches to solutions (as adopted by funders supporting Plan S).

Using a rights retention statement on submission is one such approach if you are submitting to a subscription journal.

What are the benefits of open access?

Open access is a topic that those involved in higher education cannot ignore, due to changes in funders policies since the Finch report (2012) , and the Government response to it.  The UKRI Open Access Policy for REF 2021 further shows the importance placed on making publicly funded research openly available.

Research by Alma Swan reviewing various studies found a positive open access citation advantage in 27 vs 4 studies: Swan, Alma (2010) The Open Access citation advantage: Studies and results to date.

An overview of other studies up to 2015 can be found on the SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) website: The Open Access Citation Advantage Service.  The 2019 Digital Science report: The Ascent of Open Access analysed Open Access trends between 2000 and 2016, and amoung the findings were publishing in Open Access venues optimised citation and Altmetric attention.

Benefits to St George’s of an open access institutional repository, SORA

SORA, St George’s institutional repository, has significant benefits for the institution because it provides:

  • a showcase for all of St George’s, University of London research outputs
  • increased visibility of St George’s research – the repository content is indexed by Google and in the library's discovery tool Hunter
  • potential for increased research collaboration
  • potential to attract research students
  • long-term preservation of St George’s research outputs.
Benefits for researchers

Researchers also benefit from providing open access to their work. These benefits include: 

  • new opportunities for collaboration
  • research outputs are more easily accessible and visible
  • potential for increased citations
  • ready, perpetual, access to a researcher’s published work.
Benefits for society

As authors worldwide increasingly begin to make their research outputs openly accessible, wider society will also benefit in the following ways:

  • journal articles can be accessed even if an individual’s library does not have a subscription to a particular journal
  • UK taxpayers will be able to get access to the research they fund
  • people in developing countries will be able to get access to up-to-date research.
How can I get funding to pay for an open access APC?

If your funder requires publication on an open access basis, they may ask that you incorporate anticipated open access publication costs into your grant application, or allow for reimbursement in another way.

If you think open access charges may be incurred,  the application form and guidance information for this can be found on our Paying Open Access Fees web page .  Applications must be submitted before a manuscript is submitted to a publisher or platform.  This is to allow the library to conduct the preliminary checks required.

What if my research is funded by more than one funder?

If the article has arisen from research funded by more than one funder, where block grant funding is available, the cost of making the paper available on open access should be split proportionally.
Please indicate this on the open access fee application form.

The most restrictive publication terms of the funders should be complied with, as to not do so would make the publication non-compliant with that particular funder. Please get in touch with the funders or email us if you require further guidance.

I haven't submitted my research to a journal yet, how do I know the journal meets my funder's requirements?

The journal you chose to publish in must be one that has an open access option that complies with your funder requirements. There are 2 main services provided by funders to help you check whether a journal complies:

I’ve been approached to publish, how do I know the journal is trustworthy?
If you have been contacted by a publisher whose credentials you are unsure of, you may wish to check for the journal in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) which indexes and provides access to quality open access, peer-reviewed journals. You can also have a look at Think, Check, Submit which guides you through some questions when you are considering choosing a publisher. If you have any further queries, contact the library via email.
How can I find open access articles to use in my research?

There are various ways to find open access versions of articles that are otherwise only available with a subscription to the journal (or by paying an access fee). These include:

  • Unpaywall: this is a browser extension for Firefox and Google Chrome. Once you’ve installed it, any time you find an article behind a paywall, you can click on the padlock icon on the right hand side of the screen and be taken straight to an open access version of the article, if there’s one available.
  • CORE (Connecting Repositories) aggregates open access research outputs from repositories and journals worldwide.
  • Dimensions is a system allowing search & discovery of articles. The free to access version also allows you to click through to open access articles by virtue of having Unpaywall data integrated into the Dimensions database.
  • EndNote Click (previously Kopernio, previously Canary Haz), part of the same company that includes Web of Science and EndNote, helps you find open access versions of articles including those on pre-print servers. You will need to register to use. If you are at an institution which is set up to allow for searching of university-subscribed content beyond open access content, you can add your institution to access content the library has subscribed to. See here for further information on setting up EndNote Click.
  • OA DOI: if you know the DOI (digital object identifier) of the article you’re looking for, you can paste it onto the end of this web address – – to find open access versions of the article.
  • Open Access Button: a similar tool to Unpaywall, this also allows you to search for an article directly from their website and request copies of articles from authors.


Related Links

CRIS (Current Research Information System) Information.

SORA FAQs - Links to the FAQ page on the SORA website.

Repository Policies - Links to SGUL's institutional repository policies on the SORA website.



For all enquiries about open access, email:
For all enquiries about the CRIS and SORA, e-mail:


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