Open Access for UK linguists

Open access (OA) is becoming increasingly important for research in the UK and worldwide. This page provides some guidance on OA that is specifically tailored to linguists within the UK.

Since the playing field keeps changing, information on this page may become out-of-date rather quickly. If you spot an error or a broken link, please contact us to let us know. To our knowledge, all information on this page is up-to-date as of the last edit, in February 2016.

Page contents

What is Open Access?

Open access means unrestricted online access to peer-reviewed research, free at the point of use.

In more detail, the Budapest Open Access Initiative defines OA as "free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself".

Open access contrasts with the traditional scholarly publication model, in which articles are placed behind a paywall, and individual institutions subscribe to journals or to bundles of journals in order to gain access.

There are two types of open access: green and gold.

Green Open Access

Green OA is also known as self-archiving. It involves putting a version of the article on the web where it is free for users to access. This can take various forms:

All of these qualify as green under the broad definition, but to comply with HEFCE and RCUK requirements you need to use a repository rather than a personal website or social media profile.

Gold Open Access

Gold OA involves open-access journals. These are journals which make some or all of their content available for free online. Often, these journals require you to pay an article processing charge (APC), but this is not the only business model for gold OA. Below we have provided a list of no-fees gold OA journals.

Hybrid journals are those journals that normally put articles behind a paywall, but which allow individual articles to be published open access upon payment of an APC. Hybrid APCs are typically higher than those of fully gold OA journals. The hybrid model has been criticized by linguist Stuart Shieber for entrenching the subscription model without the benefits of consistent OA.

What requirements do I have to be aware of?

You may want to consider publishing your work open access on the grounds that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge, or because open access articles get cited more. However, OA is increasingly a requirement of some funders and administrators.
  • If you're publishing a monograph or a book chapter, you don't need to worry about a thing.
  • If you're publishing a journal article, or proceedings paper in a series with an ISSN:
    • If you want to be eligible for the REF and its descendants, you will need to follow HEFCE's guidelines on OA.
    • If you are funded by a UK research council (e.g. AHRC, ESRC), you will need to follow RCUK's guidelines on OA.
    • Otherwise, you're probably not required to do anything - unless your institution or other funder has a specific OA policy.

HEFCE guidelines

All journal articles and proceedings papers must be open access in order to be eligible for future research assessment exercises. For any article accepted from 1 April 2017 onwards, "authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication".

HEFCE's policy thus requires a particular type of green open access (see above). The deposit requirement is waived for articles that are published as gold open access.

Papers must be deposited within three months after acceptance. The version deposited must be the author accepted manuscript - the accepted and final peer-reviewed text.

If the publisher imposes an embargo period that prevents you from uploading your paper straight away, that's fine, as long as the embargo period is not more than 24 months.

There are certain exceptions to the open access requirement, mostly on technical or legal grounds. If you think that this might apply to you, make sure you check the full policy. If an exception does apply, this must be indicated when you submit the work to the REF.

The full HEFCE policy (updated July 2015) can be found here. We've also provided a list of links to publishers' policies on OA, so that you can find out about embargoes etc.

RCUK guidelines

RCUK has a preference for the gold route to open access (see above), but also allows green open access.

All peer-reviewed journal articles and proceedings papers that acknowledge RCUK funding must be open access. RCUK expects full compliance by 2018. RCUK is making a block grant available to institutions in order to cover APCs for gold OA journals. Researchers choosing the gold option can apply for this money through their institutions.

Important: in order to qualify for RCUK's definition of gold OA, a journal must publish your article under a CC-BY license. Many otherwise gold OA journals do not qualify for this requirement!

If you choose the green option, papers must be deposited immediately upon acceptance. The version deposited must be the author accepted manuscript - the accepted and final peer-reviewed text.

If the publisher imposes an embargo period that prevents you from uploading your paper straight away, that's fine, as long as the embargo period is not more than 12 months. (NB: this is more restrictive than HEFCE's 24 months!)

The full RCUK policy (updated May 2013) can be found here. We've also provided a list of links to publishers' policies on OA, so that you can find out about embargoes etc., and a list of no-fees gold OA journals.

Open Access opportunities in linguistics

Self-archiving

The safest bet for self-archiving is an institutional repository. Most institutions now have one of these. Examples are Manchester's eScholar and Cambridge's DSpace.

Subject-specific repositories also qualify. For linguistics, these include lingBuzz, Rutgers Optimality Archive, and semanticsarchive.net.

You'll need to check whether your publisher permits self-archiving of the author accepted manuscript, and whether they have an embargo period. Here are some links to information about the OA policies of major linguistics journal publishers.

You can also use SHERPA/RoMEO to find this information.

List of no-fees gold OA journals

There are many journals that offer either a hybrid gold option or are fully OA with APCs. Some of these gold OA journals, e.g. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, can be classified as predatory. The best option, if appropriate for your subfield, is to use a journal which provides full gold OA and does not charge APCs. These are not yet especially numerous, but include:

The Directory of Open Access Journals also provides a non-exhaustive list, which includes APC-charging non-hybrid gold journals.

Further resources

Here are some miscellaneous other resources that might be useful for linguists interested in open access.

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