How to Make Your Work Open
Making your work openly available has a number of benefits, including:
- Expanding your research impact, through increased visibility and citations
- Complying with BU’s institutional opt-out open access policy (for faculty)
- Complying with funder mandates
- Democratizing worldwide access to knowledge
- Discovering intersections with others’ research and possible collaborations
You can make your work open by publishing openly, or by sharing your work in open digital platforms. This guide walks you through your options, based on the type of publication you’d like to make openly available.
Because of the subject matter of your work or the communities you work with–particularly if you work with indigenous knowledge, making your work openly available may engender ethical and security concerns. For further reading on this subject, see “Does Information Really Want to be Free?”
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publishing in the open
A key way to make your work open is to publish in an open access journal, often known as gold open access. Find open access journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals, or by consulting one of the journal lists in our guide “How to Choose Where to Publish” and filtering your search results by “open access.”
Some open access journals charge fees for publishing articles, known as article processing charges (APCs), which fund these journals. Subscription-based journals may offer a paid open access option, meaning that authors can pay APCs to make their articles open access immediately; these are known as hybrid journals.
BU does not have an institutional fund for paying APCs, but some journals may offer discounts on APCs for society memberships or institutional subscriptions. Contact email@example.com to confirm details about subscriptions.
How and where to share your work openly
Besides publishing your work in open access journals, you can look for other venues where you can share your work openly, such as OA repositories, often known as green open access.
A repository is a digital collection of online works, often institution- or subject-based. Repositories offer a number of benefits to authors, including:
- improving the visibility of works through standardized metadata, full-text search, and indexing in Google Scholar
- preserving works long-term
- providing authors with tools to understand how their works are being accessed, such as download statistics
Boston University has an institutional repository, OpenBU, which provides long-term access and preservation of scholarship to anyone in the BU community. For more information about putting your work in OpenBU, see our OpenBU overview.
Subject repositories collect works from specific disciplines. You can find lists of OA subject repositories on OpenDOAR, the Directory of OA Repositories, or ROAR, the Registry of OA Repositories. Both sites allow you to search for repositories by subject area, content type, or repository type. The Harvard Open Access Project also has a list of disciplinary repositories.
If you can’t find a subject repository for your field, you can also look for a universal repository, such as Zenodo, Figshare, or GitHub. You could post your work to a personal web site or academic social networking site (such as Academia.edu or ResearchGate), but nonprofit OA repositories are a better choice because they preserve your work long term, provide persistent URLs, and are indexed by Google Scholar.
How and where you can share your work will depend on:
- Whether it has been published
- What rights you retained (or the publisher allowed you to retain) to your work after signing a publishing agreement
- Whether your work falls under institutional or funder open access policies
The list below provides a guide to sharing your work, by type of publication.
Articles and conference papers published after February 11, 2015
Articles and conference papers published after February 11, 2015, fall under Boston University’s opt-out open access policy. This policy allows BU to make the final author draft of these articles publicly available in OpenBU. The final author draft is the accepted manuscript, before publisher formatting.
See Open Access at BU for more information, including how to submit a final author draft to OpenBU.
Articles and conference papers published before February 11, 2015; Reviews, editorial material, and other writings published in journals/conference proceedings
How you can share these works will depend on your publication agreement. In most cases, the publisher asks you to transfer the copyright to them, making them the copyright owner and giving them the exclusive right to share and distribute your work.
But, even if you have transferred your copyright, many journals and publishers will allow you to make a version of your article or paper openly available in a repository or on a personal website. This is commonly known as self-archiving, or green open access.
Journal/publisher self-archiving policies can be found on their websites, but the easiest place to look is the SHERPA RoMEO database.
Look for the following conditions:
- Which versions of your paper can you make openly available?
- Pre-print? (Submitted manuscript)
- Post-print? (Accepted manuscript, with revisions from peer review)
- Publisher’s version?
- Where can you make your paper openly available?
- Can you make your paper openly available after a certain period of time (embargo)?
- Most repositories will allow you to add an embargo period when you submit a work and will automatically make your work openly available after that time period.
- What information is required to be deposited with your paper?
- Link to the version of record on the publisher’s website?
- Copyright statement?
If your journal or publisher does not give your permission to share your work, you can try to ask for permission–many publishers will agree to case-by-case requests.
If you would like assistance finding self-archiving policies, contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the citation for your article, including the name of the journal or conference proceedings.
Most book publishers may allow you to make versions of book chapters openly available, generally after an embargo period. These policies can be found on their websites, but first consult this crowdsourced spreadsheet.
If you would like assistance finding self-archiving policies, contact email@example.com with the citation for your chapter, including the name of the publisher.
If your book is out-of-print, you may be able to regain the rights to your book from your publisher and then make it openly available. When you signed your original publishing agreement, you likely transferred some or all of the rights in your work to your publisher. But, your agreement may contain a rights reversion provision, which would allow you to take back your rights. For more information, see Getting Back the Rights to Your Books.
Other works: presentations, invited talks, pedagogical material, reports
You can make openly available any work to which you hold the copyright. Copyright is automatically granted upon authorship. As long as you have not signed your copyright away–such as in a publishing agreement–you can exercise your right to distribute and make available your work in any venue you would like–personal website, academic social networking site, or institutional repository. An exception to this is if your work includes any third-party material; you’ll need to make sure you have the appropriate license or permission to make that work available.
When you make your work available, you should attach a license to it; this license tells others how they can reuse your work. Creative Commons provides easy-to-understand licenses and walks you through the steps for choosing a license. After choosing your license, you can copy the provided license text to include in your file or use the provided HTML code to embed your license information on a website. Many OA repositories, including OpenBU, allow you to add a Creative Commons license during the deposit process.
Understanding Open Access, guide by the Authors Alliance
Some content in this guide was adapted from How to make your own work open access, Harvard Open Access License, CC-BY.
“How to Make Your Work Open” by the BU Libraries Digital Scholarship Services is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.