Why open access?

Open access means free access to scientific results on the Internet and this relatively new way of publishing science is becoming common practice. The idea is that all tax funded research should be made freely accessible to the public without charge.

Inspiration from illustration Benefits of Open Access, CC Danny Kingsley & Sarah Brown

Why open access?

An article that is published with open access is freely accessible for anyone who has access to the internet. This means that the potential circle of readers will be much larger than if the article had been published in a journal that requires subscription.

There are several reasons why one should publish open access. The most common reasons for choosing open publication are listed below:

  • Research funders may insist on open access publication.
  • Some studies have shown that an article that is published open access gets more readers and citations than an equivalent article would get if it had been published in a journal that is only available through subscription.
  • Open access means that research findings are often disseminated more quickly.
  • Many institutions encourage or insist that their researchers publish their research findings open access.

Several research funders set the requirement that the results of research funded by them be published open access. Often, this can be done either in a fully open access journal or through self-archiving of an article manuscript that has gone through the peer review process.

To find out what requirements specific research funders set, one can look in the Sherpa/JULIET database. It has information on, for instance, what type of publishing is required and what time limits apply.

Open access at Karolinska Institutet

Karolinska Institutet has since 2011 an open access policy. In the policy KI encourages its researchers to make their publications to the greatest possible extent freely available, taking into account publishers terms and relevant demands of grant-awarding bodies and government authorities.

Read more: Open access: a “chronology” (or timeline).

Why a project looking in to open access data? Because we felt we need to be able to lean on hard facts in order to form positions and make decisions concerning the development of open access at KI.

Self-archiving of a manuscript

One way of publishing open access is to put the article manuscript on the internet at the same time as it is being published in a traditional, subscription-based journal so-called self-archiving. Most research funders who stipulate open access will approve that as open publication and it is generally the last version of the manuscript that must be used, i.e. the version that has gone through the peer review process.

Making an article manuscript public in this way means the research findings are spread to a wider circle of readers and it can also be a way of attracting people to read the proper, published article.

So what can you do with your manuscript? It depends on who has published the article. Some publishers stipulate that a manuscript cannot be made public until after a certain period of time, usually after six or twelve months, while others allow it to be made public straight away. The search service Sherpa/RoMEO can be used to find out specific publishers' policies as regards the self-archiving of a manuscript. You can search for a specific journal and see what terms apply.

Research funders that demand open publication

Vetenskapsrådet (Swedish Research Council)

The Swedish Research Council stipulates that researchers who have been granted funding must either (i) publish their findings in web-based journals with immediate open access, or, (ii) after publication in a traditional subscription-based journal, immediately or latest within six months, archive the article in an openly searchable database. If the publisher's standard contract does not permit parallel publication within six months, the researcher must demand that the publisher make an exception. The parties concerned can then use a supplementary agreement that can be found on the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition website (SPARC Author Addendum).

Horizon 2020 (EU Commission)

The EU Commission's framework program Horizon 2020 requires researchers who receive funding either to (i) publish their results in a fully open access journal / hybrid journal, or (ii) parallel publish the peer reviewed version of the article in an open archive no later than 6 months after publication. Horizon 2020 also requires research data to be stored in an open research data repository, but exceptions can be made depending on the nature of the data.

European Research Council

The European Research Council (ERC) stipulates (i) that an electronic copy of each research-based publication that was fully or partly financed by the ERC must be deposited immediately after publication in a suitable repository with regard to subject area, (ii) that open access be prepared as soon as possible, and without exception, latest six months after publication.

The EU Commission's Seventh Framework Programme

The EU Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) entails that researchers who have received a grant from the EU must (i) deposit their peer-reviewed articles or manuscripts in an online archive, and (ii) to the best of their ability ensure that the article is made accessible within six months.

Knut och Alice Wallenbergs stiftelse (The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation)

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation's policy is that the research the foundation funds must be published with open access, i.e. published articles must be archived in openly searchable databases. Extra costs for this can be included as a direct cost in project applications.


Forte stipulates that researchers that have been granted funding as of 1 January 2012 must publish their articles with open access, with maximum six months' delay. As of 1 January 2012, all approved project grants (with a decision date earliest 1 January 2012) have been given a general grant of SEK 30,000 for open access publication.


Formas stipulates that researchers who have received funding as of 2010 must guarantee that their research findings will be available via open access latest six months after publication. Researchers can either (i) publish in journals that use open access or (ii) in journals that archive published articles in large, public databases.

National Institutes of Health

National Institutes of Health (NIH) stipulates that all researchers who have received funding from NIH must deposit an electronic version of the peer-reviewed manuscript at Pubmed Central. The manuscript must be made accessible latest 12 months after publication.


Mon – Fri 10:00 – 15:00
08-524 84 000

Senast uppdaterad: