Open Access: What is it?

Open Access means free, immediate and (usually) unrestricted access to scientific research online. It has its roots in the beliefs that publicly-funded research should be publicly available, that researchers should be allowed to retain copyright over their own work and that making research freely available is a societal good.

The Open Access publishing model has its roots in the Budapest Declaration of February 2002, which stated that

“[Open Access means] freely available on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles…without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."

Since then Open Access has become an established scientific publishing model, aimed at countering financial and technical obstacles to accessing research. Understanding of the model has expanded to encompass access to the raw data and methodologies associated with published research. These have become known collectively as Open Research.

Open Research

In September 2018 a group of European research funders known as ‘Coalition S’ agreed a plan (‘Plan S’) requiring that

“With effect from 2021, all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by national, regional and international research councils and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo.”

In response Ireland’s National Open Research Forum (NORF) has produced a National Framework on the Transition to an Open Research Environment, launched in July 2019 by John Halligan, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development. This document will guide Ireland’s transition to an Open Research publishing model in the coming years.

Open Access. Open Research and the HSE

Within the HSE, much has already been done to align the organisation with the goals of Coalition S and NORF.

The Lenus repository, managed by the National Health Library and Knowledge Service (NHLKS), is a comprehensive archive of Irish health research and grey literature which has become the premier resource of its kind in the country. Lenus is constantly adding to its collection and actively encourages HSE researchers to contribute their research.

The NHLKS also seeks to acknowledge and promote Open Research within the health services through the annual Open Access Research Awards. Since their launch in 2014, the awards have highlighted the importance of the work done by researchers working within the Irish health services.

In 2017 the HSE created its first Research and Evidence Office, led by Dr Ana Terrés. It has already completed a research benchmarking exercise and will be working closely with the NHLKS and Lenus to ensure that health service research achieves its widest possible reach and impact.

Want to know more?

If you’d like more information about Open Access or Open Research – or if you have general questions about getting your research published – contact us at hselibrary@hse.ie