Open Access: What universities should be doing

At the recent Open Access seminar hosted by VU Library, Dr Virginia Barbour, Executive Officer for the Australasian Open Access Support Group (AOASG), reminded researchers of the power academics have in the ever changing publishing environment, where innovations are often driven by academics.

During the seminar, discussion on the topic of 'What is stopping open access?' provided researchers an opportunity to reflect on the barriers to open access. Issues raised include:

  • lack of awareness of 'white' and 'black' sides of open access
  • cost associated with open access
  • citation-driven system
  • copyright and plagiarism.

Dr Barbour also highlighted that 'free is great but we need to make it open'. Open access as opposed to free access means that there is immediate free access, as well as unrestricted free distribution and re-use of information.

To help make their work open, researchers need to:

Dr Barbour noted that "the Australian approach to open access is largely green" with mandates by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC):

  • NHMRC policy applies to peer reviewed journal publications published after 1 July 2012, regardless of the start date of the relevant grant
  • ARC policy applies to all ARC grants awarded after 1 January 2013 and all types of publications (including books and book chapters).

With the debate about Open Access evolving from "what publishers should be doing" to "what universities should be doing", Dr Barbour highlighted how researchers should harness technological tools now available to help them win the publishing game.

Publishing tools for researchers

Understanding what ‘Open’ means

HowOpenIsIt? is a tool for researchers to:

  • compare and contrast publications and policies
  • determine how open a publisher and/or publication is.

The tool also illustrates a continuum of 'more open' versus 'less open'.


ORCID (author identification tool) which allows researchers to identify themselves from every other researcher. This tool is especially relevant for the researcher who has changed their name in the course of their academic career, as they can lose attribution to all previous papers.


CRediT which is an open standard for expressing roles intrinsic to research based on three roles namely conceptualisation, methodology and software.


EQUATOR which provides reporting guidelines for health research. According to Dr Barbour, this tool is becoming very important for journal editors who are increasingly asking for it. Dr Barbour referred to the STROBE statement which is a checklist of items that should be included in reports of observational studies.

Assessing journals

DOAJ, Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) which has revised and updated its Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, PubMed, ThinkCheckSubmit providing a checklist to choose the right journal.

Measuring impact

Various ways (other than citations which represent a small fraction of how a paper is reused) include web usage, social bookmarking, community rating, etc. and the possibility to engage with post publication of a paper through PubMed Commons

Open access cost covered by Victoria University

Wiley Open Access journals or OnlineOpen

Victoria University has a Wiley Open Access Account to cover the article processing fees for researchers who publish an open access article in a Wiley journal. Authors affiliated with, or funded by, Victoria University can publish research articles in Wiley Open Access journals and/or Online Open. When authors submit to a Wiley Open Access journal or opt for OnlineOpen, they need to state their affiliation to Victoria University. Wiley Open Access journals include Brain and Behavior and Food Science & Nutrition.

Biomed Central

All original research articles published by BioMed Central are made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication. Victoria University has a BioMed Central membership which covers the article processing charge for VU researchers who meet the criteria to publish in their Open Access journals (subject to funding availability). At the time of submitting, the researcher needs to make sure they identify themselves as being from Victoria University (it is better to submit from on campus so they can recognise the IP address).

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