Open Research FAQs
Open Research refers to principles and practices that embrace openness throughout the research lifecycle to make research collaborative, transparent, and reproducible. It has relevance to all disciplines.
Open Research covers a wide range of practices including use of connected tools and platforms, use of identifiers, open drafting, open peer review, and ensuring research outputs and their underlying data are made openly available for re-use (Open Access). Research should be as open as possible, and as closed as necessary.
Requirements for open research are increasingly reflected in the policies of funders and research organisations in order to maximise the public benefit of research. Other drivers include increasing transparency to demonstrate research integrity, providing global access to research outputs, and making the work and outputs of researchers more visible and impactful.
Aligned with the principles of Open Access and Open Research are two frameworks:
- The FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) model as expressed in the Policy statement on FAIR access to Australia’s research outputs. While the model initially referred to data, it is now widely applied to research outputs. Open access is compatible with FAIR, however FAIR gives more explicit guidance on how to increase discoverability, re-usability and impact of research outputs.
- The CARE (Collective Benefit, Authority to Control, Responsibility, and Ethics) Principles of Indigenous Data Governance. Open and FAIR doesn’t entirely align with expectations around the rights and interests of Indigenous People. Therefore the CARE principles were developed to complement the FAIR statement by giving further guidance in this area.
The University strongly encourages researchers to give preference to Open Access where possible. Researchers are urged to consider making publications, including journal articles, available via Curtin’s institutional repository espace in accordance with publisher policies and funder mandates.
This is consistent with the obligations set out in Curtin’s Authorship, Peer Review and Publication of Research Outputs Policy and Procedure.
- To make available open access publications resulting from grants awarded within twelve months of the date of publication.
- For the ARC this applies to not only scholarly journal articles but to books, chapters, NTROs etc., for NHMRC this applies to peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings, but they encourage other forms of output to be made open access.
- Both stipulate that if the author is unable to make the publications open access in the twelve months reasons must be clearly communicated.
- Both strongly encourage making Research Data openly available in an accessible and discoverable format.
- To make accessible the metadata for publications resulting from grants awarded even in instances when making available the publications is delayed or blocked.
- See the ARC and NHMRC Open Access policies for more detail.
As is the case with any journal, there is no single source for assessing the quality of an open access publication.
There are a number of tools to help you make an informed decision, including:
- Scimago, which ranks journals including OA titles by their quartile – a Q1 journal is ranked in the top 25% of titles in its field, Q2 the top %50 and so on.
- The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) – titles which meet best practice standards are assigned the DOAJ Seal.
It is best not to rely solely on published lists of quality journals, as these can very quickly get out-dated. However some disciplines do rely on such title lists, for example the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) list in the business field.
If you are concerned about the bona fides of a journal and its publisher, read our guide to help you identify predatory publishers.
Curtin University is committed to supporting Open Research, scholarship and knowledge and requires all Curtin authored refereed journal articles, conference papers and theses be made open where possible.
The University does not operate a central fund to cover Article Processing Charges (APCs) however Curtin Library is gradually expanding its arrangements with publishers for discounted or free OA publishing (known as ‘read and publish agreements’). Read more about these arrangements and which publishers/titles are included on the Strategic Publishing guide. OA publishing costs CAN be substantial. However there are other ways of publishing OA without having to pay fees. Read more about finding fee-free journals here.
Authors are encouraged to include publication costs where it is an allowable expenditure within a project budget.
Open Access book publishing is a relatively new development but its popularity is growing exponentially as the full value of being discoverable and widely readable is recognised by book authors.
Some book publishers levy a Book Processing Charge to make a title open access but others offer free publication, funding their activities through grants, sponsors or advertising.
Traditionally, authors submit their work for free to journal publishers who then charge libraries and companies to access the articles either in hard copy or online format. This type of publishing is still “free” for authors.
However there has been a recent increase in the number of journals which charge authors an Article Processing Charge (APC) with the final article being freely available to read and download via Google Scholar, databases or webpages. If you wish to publish open access in these journals you may be faced with charges.
There are a number of ways you can publish open access without having to pay an APC:
- Use the Directory of Open Access Journals to find APC free journals – search tips on how to do this can be found on our guide to open access journals.
- As outlined in the Authorship, Peer Review and Publication of Research Findings Policy, researchers are responsible for recording their research outputs in the institutional publications management system (i.e. Elements), and depositing a copyright compliant version of their output into espace, Curtin’s institutional repository.
- If espace is not suitable for your work, find another repository where your work can be lodged, allocated a DOI and made discoverable.
You might also wish to consider a preprint server for the early draft of your publication. This will make your research discoverable and available for your peers to comment on before formal publication.
Preprints, or e-prints, are very early versions of a research publication that are shared via a preprint server BEFORE they have been submitted to a journal. The aim of these repositories, such as ChemRxiv, arXiv and Humanites Commons, is to allow early comment and feedback by peers and colleagues in your discipline prior to publication. After this early review, scrutiny and feedback, your final submitted article may be more likely to be successful with a commercial publisher.
The added bonus of preprints is that they allow research to be made available much more rapidly than is normally the case in the formal publication process. During COVID this has been particularly important with preprints allowing rapid dissemination of potential new medical research outcomes.
You can read more about preprints here.
Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organisation that provides a set of standard licences that enable creators to make their content free to share and re-use. This overcomes the issue with the current copyright regime that assumes all content is protected by copyright and the default is ‘all rights reserved’ (i.e. you need permission of the creator before you can copy, adapt, or share the work). By attaching a Creative Commons licence, people know immediately that they can freely share and re-use the content.
There are six Creative Commons licences with four conditions, depending on what licence is selected:
- Attribution (BY) – this means you must attribute the creator of the work when you re-use it.
- Non-Commercial (NC) – this means you cannot use the work for commercial purposes.
- No Derivatives (ND) – this means you cannot adapt or modify the work and share it.
- ShareAlike (SA) this means if you adapt the work into a new work you must attach a similar ShareAlike licence to the new work.
The Creative Commons Licence Chooser is a good resource to walk through these conditions so you can identify the most appropriate licence for your content. It will also provide you with the licence wording to attach to the content, as well as the HTML code to insert into your webpage to make the licence code machine-readable (which enables search engines and other online services to automatically identify your content as Creative Commons).
When researchers publish in a commercial journal or other outlet it is common practice for them to transfer or assign their copyright to the publisher, without any financial remuneration. This means the publisher is now the copyright holder for the item, and can exploit it commercially.
The move to Open Access attempts to address the imbalance between researchers and publishers in the research ecosystem. Instead of transferring copyright to a publisher, authors are encouraged to retain their copyright. The Open Access movement also encourages authors to attach an open licence, such as a Creative Commons licence, to the output so the output can be freely copied, shared, and re-used – where research is publicly funded, the public should receive the benefit of the outputs of the research.
If making your material available on an open access basis keep in mind:
- Your plans for future use of the output. For example, if you want to publish in a commercial outlet, licence the content exclusively to another party, or commercialise the content you shouldn’t attach an open licence.
- The type of open licence you want to use. For example Creative Commons is a type of open licence but there are variations in the licence types (e.g. some prohibit commercial use, some prohibit making adaptations or derivative works, etc.). Read more about Creative Commons licences here. Creative Commons isn’t recommended for software so you might want to consider other types of open licences for different content types.
- Almost all open licences require others attribute you as the creator of your material (except for licences dedicating material to the public domain like CC0).
- Think carefully about whether you want to permit commercial use. Creative Commons defines commercial as activity that is “primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or monetary compensation” (more information here). This means a commercial organisation could choose to use the content, as long as their purposes are not primarily commercial (for example for internal training).
Research made available through Open Access has the greatest potential audience that includes government agencies, policy makers, practitioners, charities and non-government organisations, industry and business and the general public. The increased visibility and reach of open access material can contribute to maximising the impact of the research.
Maximising the proportion of research freely available will raise the profile of Curtin as a research-intensive institution and demonstrate the University’s commitment to the global movement to provide public access to publicly funded research. Open Access is mandated by many national and international funding agencies including the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Curtin output made openly accessible has a citation advantage. Based on data from COKI (Curtin open Knowledge Initiative) between 2013-2018 Curtin papers made openly accessible is on average per year cited 1.3 – 2.2 times more than papers not made openly accessible.