Getting our money’s worth

Gold open access doesn’t come cheap. In the last academic year LSHTM authors produced 126 Open Access research papers which were paid from Wellcome Trust, RCUK, COAF and the School Open Access Fund at a total cost of £255,391 .  The average cost of an article processing charge (APC) was just under £1,700.  So at that price, it is understandable that the School ― and our funders ― want to get whateuro-427528_1920 we pay for.

Of course,  open access is desirable in itself, making articles freely available to the widest possible audience. But additionally, funders including the Wellcome Trust require research papers to be published under a CC-BY (Creative Commons Attribution-only) license.

This means that, provided appropriate attribution is given, there is no restriction on the article being used for commercial or non-commercial purposes, or for creating a ‘derivative’ — a transformed or built-upon version of the article. Though researchers may wonder why they should allow commercial use of their work, the Wellcome Trust argues that some kinds of use, such as translation, or data and text mining, are much more likely to become viable if the added value of such services can be recouped.

Unfortunately, some researchers are unaware that licenses prohibiting such use (for example CC-BY-NC-ND) do not meet funders’ requirements and could result in funding being withheld. Ideally, publishers would make this clear to authors at the point where open access is requested. However, this does not always happen, and the Library then needs to contact the publishers and the authors so as to negotiate a retrospective change to the license. It often takes us time and perseverance to get the change made.

So the rule is: always select the CC-BY Attribution-only license when choosing the open access option.  You should also opt for an article to be deposited by the publisher in the free full-text archive PubMedCentral within six months.

As explained in a previous post, The Wellcome Trust monitors papers and can impose penalties including withholding the final ten per cent of the grant. So a tick in the right box could save more than just a ticking off further down the line.


If in doubt about funding requirements or the options offered by a publisher, email the Research Online Team:

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