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Frequently asked questions

General questions about Open Access

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) means that items of scholarly work are made available online, in a digital format, at no charge to the reader and with limited restrictions on re-use. 

What is Gold Open Access (OA)?

Gold OA is where the, 

  • final post peer-review version of a published work is freely available via the publisher’s website immediately on publication,
  • published work may be published under a Creative Commons licence,
  • publisher may apply an Article Processing Charge (APC) to cover publication costs

What is Green Open Access (OA)?

Green OA is where the,

  • published work is freely available via an institutional or discipline-specific repository,
  • version of work made available may be pre peer-review (pre-print, draft) or post peer-review (post-print author's or publisher's),
  • version deposited may be subject to a publisher’s embargo,
  • article is made OA without payment of an Article Processing Charge (APC)

What are the benefits of Open Access (OA)?

One prominent benefit of Open Access (OA) demonstrated by published evidence is that it increases the number of citations articles receive by enhancing the visibility of research. In general, the benefits of OA fall into four major categories:

  • It maximises the use of public funds
  • It accelerates research (publish, read, cite, build upon) and increases impact
  • It is widely considered to be an ethical practice
  • Compliance with research funders policies

What is meant by an embargo period?

An embargo in academic publishing is a period during which access to a research publication is restricted by some means. The purpose of this is usually to protect the revenue of publishers who rely on subscription payments to cover the costs of publication.

An understanding of embargo periods is important because research funders are now stipulating requirements in this area.

What is the difference between the 'pre-print' and the 'post-print' versions of my article?

The 'pre-print' is the version of an article that is submitted for peer-review to a journal or conference proceeding.

The 'post-print' is the version of an article that incorporates revisions made as a result of the peer-review process. This may or may not include formatting, layout, and pagination changes made following copy-editing.

Does my research data need to be made Open Access (OA) too?

The University of Manchester’s Research Data Management Policy endorses the RCUK Common Principles on Data Policy and requires all its staff and students to adhere to them, as well as taking into account any other research data management requirements that may apply.

The new Research Councils UK policy on Open Access requires research papers to include a statement on how the underlying research materials can be accessed. Individual research councils have specific policies governing the preservation, sharing and re-use of research data.

Questions about Open Access at The University of Manchester

What is the University's position on Open Access (OA)?

The University is committed to ensuring as wide an audience as possible can access and read the outputs of its research and scholarship. Therefore, it supports the principles of OA and the efforts of its researchers to disseminate their research findings as widely as possible.

The University affirms the right of its academic researchers to retain the freedom of choice to decide the content, form and outlet for publishing their research findings. Furthermore, the University will use the intrinsic merit of the work (exhibited by academic rigour, innovation and level of scholarship) and not the publishing outlet, when making quality judgements.

The University attaches equal support to all credible, practical and sustainable means of achieving OA.

The University supports Green and Gold OA.

What is the role of the University of Manchester Library?

The University of Manchester Library will manage Open Access (OA) block funds (monitoring and reporting of spend and processing of Article Processing Charge (APC) payments) and is working with University Research Support Services to ensure the request and payment of APCs neither hinders the publishing process nor unduly burdens researchers while being aligned with research funder and financial requirements.

The Library is providing guidance and support through a dedicated support service, online materials and face-to-face presentations at Faculty and School meetings.

Academic publishers continue to develop new OA outlets and alternative APC payment options. The Library has investigated publisher-institution APC payment deals which reduce costs for University authors and maximise the value of allocated funds. For further information about APC discounts visit our Institutional APC deals page.

The Library also manages the University’s institutional repository – Manchester eScholar.

The Library launched a pilot OA fund in October 2014. This fund is to support current University of Manchester researchers who wish to publish new papers as OA but who do not have access to monies to pay OA publication charges from their funders or whose research is unfunded.

Questions about research funders' Open Access policies

What are the main points of the new Research Councils UK (RCUK) policy?

The RCUK Open Access (OA) policy applies to all research papers where the work was fully or partially funded by RCUK (past, current and future grants) and submitted for publication from 1st April 2013.

Key points of the policy are:

  • All publications must be made OA immediately on publication (often called the ‘Gold’ route), or within six months of the publication date with the exception of Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded papers which initially have a 12 month period in which to be made available (deposited in an appropriate subject or institutional repository - known as the ‘Green’ route).
  • The selected publisher must support the Creative Commons CC-BY licence (See the CC-BY FAQ for more information) which allows unrestricted use of manual and automated text and data mining tools, as well as unrestricted re-use of content with proper attribution. Alternatively, the journal must allow deposit into a repository without restriction on non-commercial re-use, and within a specified period. This is to maximise exposure to the research findings. This may be achieved using the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC licence or an equivalent publisher-specific deposit licence.

RCUK have issued guidance notes on the implementation and interpretation of this new policy.

Does the new Research Councils UK policy apply to all research councils equally?

Yes, the only exception being the longer embargo periods for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded papers using Green Open Access.

Individual research councils may also have additional specific requirements governing Open Access. For instance, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and ESRC require deposit in specific subject repositories, such as Europe PubMed Central and the ESRC Research Catalogue respectively.

What if I'm funded by the Wellcome Trust?

All published journal articles arising from research funded by the Wellcome Trust must be made Open Access as soon as possible following publication and within six months of publication at the latest.

The Wellcome Trust mandates deposit in Europe PubMed Central within six months of publication.

It is the author’s responsibility to ensure this deposit takes place if an APC has not been paid to a publisher.

From 1st April 2013 the Wellcome Trust requires a CC-BY licence to be used wherever Wellcome Trust funds are used to pay an Article Processing Charge. See the Wellcome Trust CC-BY FAQ.

In October 2014 the Wellcome Trust's OA policy was adopted by a collective partnership of medical charities, the Charity Open Access Fund

What is the Charity Open Access Fund?

The Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) is a partnership between Arthritis Research UK, Breast Cancer Campaign, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and the Wellcome Trust to enable free and unrestricted access to the published outputs of the research supported by the partners.

COAF has provided a single combined block grant to the University to meet the cost of Article Processing Charges (APCs) for peer-reviewed research publications resulting from research funded by one or more of the six partner charities.

COAF has been established for an initial pilot phase of two years, beginning 1 October 2014. The Wellcome Trust is administering the Fund on behalf of the partners for this pilot phase.

What about funders other than Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust?

Many other research funders are moving towards a policy where Open Access (OA) publishing is the default.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced a new policy in March 2014 and the European Research Council requires research funded by them to be made OA. The European Commission will also make Open Access to scientific publications a general principle of Horizon 2020.

What is a CC-BY licence?

According to Creative Commons, a CC-BY licence allows a user to:

  • Share - to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • Remix - to adapt the work
  • Use the work for commercial purposes

These uses come with the condition that the user must “attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.” Understanding the CC-BY licence is important because research funders are now requiring this.

What if my preferred journal doesn't allow me to comply with my funder's Open Access policy?

Please contact the Library to discuss and investigate options.

Do I need to apply for Open Access (OA) funding in my grant application?

Not if you are applying for a grant from Research Councils UK (RCUK) or the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) partners.

However, researchers preferring Gold OA should apply for funds from other research funders where the funder supports this.

How much should I cost into my grant for Open Access (OA) payments?

Article Processing Charges (APCs) vary between publisher, discipline and type of article. We advise costing in approximately £2000 per article for APCs. 

NB Publication charges, e.g. colour charges, page charges, may be additional to the cost of the APC. This varies according to publisher.

How can I check if my preferred journal complies with my funder's Open Access (OA) policy?

The SHERPA/FACT service (beta version) provides guidance on whether an author's chosen journal complies with their funder's Open Access (OA) policy.

Authors can check publishers' standard self-archiving policies using an existing service called SHERPA/RoMEO. A companion service, SHERPA/JULIET, is also available providing standard funders' OA policies. Information from these services is updated frequently but should be used with caution when assessing policy compliance.

Alternatively, you may contact the Library for help and guidance.

Questions about publishers' Article Processing Charges

What is an Article Processing Charge (APC)?

An APC is a publisher’s fee for covering the publishing costs such as those associated with the editorial and peer-review processes. A consequence of payment of an APC is Gold Open Access to the research paper.

How much do Article Processing Charges cost?

Publishers' APCs range from a few pounds to several thousands of pounds (see Solomon and Bjork' study of Open Access journals using Article Processing Charges). RCUK have assumed an average APC of £1,750 for its funded research.

The University of Manchester Library has investigated and arranged discounts on several publisher's APCs for University authors. For further information about these discounts visit our Institutional APC deals page.

How do I pay an Article Processing Charge (APC)?

If your research is wholly or partly funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK) or one of the Charity Open Access Fund(COAF) partners you can apply for an APC to be paid from the OA funds allocated to the University of Manchester.  

Journal and conference papers that have been accepted for publication are eligible for these funds, but publications must satisfy criteria specified by RCUK and COAF.

To request funding visit the Request Open Access funding web page.  You will be informed within 48 hours if your request has been approved. Library staff will advise requesters of the payment procedure for the relevant publisher.

NB If your research is funded by other means and you have APC funds available you should make direct payments to your publisher.

Is there a fund to pay Article Processing Charges (APCs) at the University of Manchester?

Yes.  The Open Access (OA) funds currently available at the University are,

  • RCUK block grant
  • Charity Open Access Fund (COAF)
  • Institutional Open Access Fund

The funding received from RCUK and COAF are annual allocations and we cannot guarantee that monies will be available for the whole of the current academic year.  The Institutional Open Access Fund is allocated according to criteria determined by each of the faculties. 

How do I request payment of an Article Processing Charge (APC)?

Visit the Request Open Access funding web page

NB Requesters are required to include details of their internal funding code in the online request form for approval and monitoring purposes. If the relevant funding code does not appear in the drop-down list in the online form, please cancel the submission and send you APC request by email

Can I get funding to pay for extra publishing charges, eg colour illustrations?

This will depend on your research funder. It is possible for Research Councils UK (RCUK) funded researchers to apply for payment of extra publishing charges. Allocation of funds is at the discretion of the Faculty or School.

How is the allocation of Article Processing Charges (APCs) decided at the University?

Decisions on allocation of APCs to individual research papers will be made at Faculty and/or School level.

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) block grant has been allocated to Faculties in proportion to the direct labour costs associated with RCUK funded research.

What if I can't afford the publisher's Article Processing Charge (APC)?

If you are unable to afford the publisher's APC:

  • Use the Green Open Access option (if offered by the publisher)
  • Consider discussing the option of a waiver with your publisher
  • Contact the Library

Can I request an Article Processing Charge payment if I no longer work at the University of Manchester?

Yes. Where papers result from research funded by RCUK grants held at the University of Manchester researchers no longer employed by the University may still request an APC payment.

Can a student request an Article Processing Charge payment?


Researchers funded by RCUK or Wellcome Trust through a studentship or other award must comply with their funder's Open Access Policy and can request an APC payment from the University's funds.


Can I get a discount on the publisher's APC?

Yes, for certain publishers.

The University of Manchester Library has investigated and arranged discounts on several publishers' APCs for University authors. For further information about these discounts visit our Institutional APC deals page.

Questions about getting help

Where can I get help?

The Library provides a dedicated service to support Open Access enquiries.