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Open Access

“Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access is the needed modern update for the communication of research that fully utilizes the Internet for what it was originally built to do—accelerate research.” (SPARC Open Access) For more general information on Open Access, see Peter Suber’s Open Access Overview.

The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) has put forth an Institutional Mobilization Toolkit to raise awareness of the challenges of the current publication model and develop materials to clarify issues in scholarly communication. Included in the toolkit is a useful selected bibliography.

Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications

The federal granting agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) announced a Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications, which states that “Grant recipients are required to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication.”The Canadian Association of Research Libraries has also published a guide to the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy. Grant recipients can fulfill the open access requirements through the following routes:

  • Online repositories: self-archiving an appropriate version of an article in an institutional or disciplinary OA repository, including Laurentian’s LU|Zone|UL.
  • Journals: publishing an article in an OA journal (an article processing charge may apply); paying to have an article made OA in a non-OA journal.

Determining Open Access policies

The requirements regarding OA publishing, archiving and data archiving may differ among funding organizations. Sherpa Juliet provides a database of research funders’ open access policies.

To learn more about individual repositories, ROARMAP provides a registry for OA repository mandates and policies.


An institutional repository (IR) is a database with a set of services to capture, store, index, preserve and redistribute a university's scholarly research in digital formats. As a general rule, IR technology has been developed to support the open access model of dissemination. Laurentian’s institutional repository LU|Zone|UL has distributed and preserved the scholarly work of LU faculty, in addition to Master’s theses and doctoral dissertations, since 2007. Contributing your scholarly activity to LU|Zone|UL is one way to fulfill the open access requirements of the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications.

Contributing to LU|Zone|UL

  • There is no charge to contribute articles to LU|Zone|UL.
  • Your liaison librarian will help you by verifying that you are contributing the correct version of your work and that your article will be described and available from LU|Zone|UL.
  • Shortly after your work is available on LU|Zone|UL, it will be readily available to find and read through search engines like Google Scholar.
  • Most journals now allow self-archiving, though sometimes with an embargo period. An embargo period of up to one year is acceptable by the Canadian federal granting agencies. A document can be sent to LU|Zone|UL before the end of an embargo period, however, the document will not be made available from LU|Zone|UL until such time as the embargo is over.
  • You may contribute your work to LU|Zone|UL as well as to a disciplinary repository such as PubMed Central Canada or; in fact, it is encouraged!

To search for other repositories see:

  • ROAR. Registry of Open Access Repositories.
  • OpenDOAR. Directory of Open Access Repositories.
  • Sherpa Romeo. Provides information on publisher’s requirements around self-archiving.

Why publish in an OA journal rather than non-OA journal?

  • An article, in its “version of record,” is immediately readable by anyone in the world with Internet access. Publishing your work in a subscription-based journal generally restricts its readership to persons affiliated with a university whose library can afford to subscribe to (or license online access to) the journal.
  • Publishing an article in an OA journal—or paying to have an article made OA in a non-OA journal—will also simply and immediately fulfill OA requirements of most funding agencies. Some journals require authors to pay an article processing charge; $3,000 is not an uncommon fee. It can be a challenge for an author to pay such charges if they have chosen to publish in such a journal. The Canadian federal granting agencies do, however, allow grant funding to be used for payment of article processing charges to satisfy their Open Access policy. Laurentian University researchers can also benefit from discounted article processing charges with NRC Research Press journals and Sage journals because Laurentian has licensed their content through CRKN-negotiated arrangements. Authors submitting to journals of these two publishers should ask for the appropriate article processing charge discounts. For OA publication in NRC Research Press journals, Laurentian authors would be charged $1,500, rather than the normal $3,000 per article; in Sage journals, Laurentian authors would receive a 40% discount on article processing charges (which vary according to journal).
  • Various studies have sought to determine if OA journal articles in general are cited more frequently than non-OA articles. SPARC Europe provides a list of such studies along with summaries. There is evidence that suggests a citation advantage.
  • OA journals generally allow authors to retain their copyright; the author is normally asked to apply a Creative Commons (CC) license to the article. “Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that promotes and enables the sharing of knowledge and creativity throughout the world. The organization produces and maintains a free suite of licensing tools to allow anyone to easily share, reuse, and remix materials with a fair "some rights reserved" approach to copyright” (Creative Commons Canada).

It should be noted that there are false or “predatory” journals, some of which purport to be OA journals. Such “journals” may be total shams or may actually publish issues of articles, but with no real peer review process. It is important to recognize that the quality of a journal has very little to do with whether it is OA or not, with the exception that the OA policy for a given journal is a factor in the assessment of the ability to make the author's research available; all of the other factors which are used to assess the quality of a journal (peer review process, impact factor and other metrics, etc) apply equally to OA and non-OA journals. There are also organizations that exist to propose standards in OA publishing, such as the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.

There are ways to distinguish legitimate from false OA journals; a librarian can assist, but there are other resources:

  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) acts as a whitelist of approximately 10,000 quality OA journals; along with reassessing the titles periodically, it is also responsive to concerns when they are raised. For example, Walt Crawford, in The Gold OA Landscape: 2011-2014, assessed each of the DOAJ titles and that led to 200 of the titles being culled.
  • The campaign Think, Check, Submit, also seeks to help researchers identify trusted journals and publishers. The campaign provides a simple checklist which can be used to assess journals and publishers.
  • ULRICHS WEB is a global serials directory, which provides detailed information on more than 300,000 periodicals, although most are not OA.

Publishing Open Access Journals at Laurentian

The Laurentian­-based OA publication Native Social Work Journal is hosted on LU|Zone|UL. If you want to publish an OA journal at Laurentian University, contact the Library and Archives through your liaison librarian. The Library and Archives will help you determine the best publication platform for your needs: in addition to LU|Zone|UL, we can also arrange access to the Open Journal Systems platform which supports editing, reviewing, and publishing workflows for online journals.

What is Laurentian doing to support OA?

In addition to LU|Zone|UL, the Laurentian University Library and Archives contributes funding to the CRKN licensing consortium to support the OA publication of some 150 French-language and bilingual academic journals, many of which are Canadian, by Érudit, a consortium formed by Université de Montréal, Université Laval and UQAM. A similar arrangement exists for a series of high energy physics journals: LU contributes funding through CRKN to make them available in OA under the international SCOAP3 project.

Research Data Management and OA

Research data can also be made available to other researchers on an OA basis. The preservation and OA sharing of research data will likely be  a policy focus for Canadian federal granting councils in the future. If you are interested in preserving or sharing your research data, the Library and Archives offers some Data Services of this nature.