Students Staff
University of Essex

October 24, 2017

Introduction to Open Access

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — sjkelly @ 11:41 am

Open in order to...

Open Access is a hot topic in publishing at the moment, though it is infamous for being confusing and can therefore be something researchers and support providers shy away from. Fear not, as yesterday marked the beginning of the global Open Access week; the Digital Skills Group is here to explain Open Access with the help from two researchers and our very own repository manager.

So, what is Open Access?

If a publication is Open Access, it simply means that it is free to read, download and reuse. There have been a huge increase of Open Access publications in the UK; a lot of this is due to new policies from funders (e.g. RCUK and Wellcome Trust) or HEFCE. This has had a large impact on research in the UK, for example; Journal articles and some conference proceedings submitted to the next REF must be Open Access in order to be eligible. Our team checked in on Jim Jamieson, our Institutional Repository Manager to see how University of Essex is dealing with the new Open Access requirements.

“Since HEFCE’s new policy in April 2016, consistently about 80% of all articles in our repository are Open Access” – Jim Jamieson

From this statement you might think we don’t need to create awareness, but a lot of articles are Open Access simply due to the work by Jim Jamieson (not to mention our new Research Information System – managed by our Research Systems Manager, Phineas Wenlock , which has made depositing publications and tracking citations a lot easier!). However, it is not Jim Jamieson’s responsibility to make sure publications are Open Access, so here’s a quick introduction:

How do you make a publication Open Access?

There are two main routes:

Gold Open Access OA2This means publishing in an Open Access journal. The article is peer reviewed and an Article Processing Charge (APC) is paid by the author when the manuscript is accepted. Once published, it is immediately accessible online free of charge via the Journal.

Ps. the University of Essex have funding to pay for Gold Open Access for any research funded by RCUK. Email Jim Jamieson at to find out more.

One thing to be aware of with Open Access Journals is something called predatory journals – these journals are only interested in money, and will accept any manuscript as long as the fee is paid. Predatory journals often contact authors asking for manuscript, so if you or your colleagues receive an email like this, just ignore it.

If you want to check whether the journal you want to publish with is safe you can use the Think.Check.Submit. Checklist. Alternatively (or in addition) you can also find safe and trusted Open Access journals via DOAj (Directory of Open Access Journals).


Silke Paulmann from the Psychology Department is an example of one of our academics who has been embracing the Gold Open Access route to make sure her publications are REF eligible. She chose this route because the publishing timeline is quicker and more automatic, therefore making it a more convenient option for her. In addition, most of the Open Access articles she has published have a strong focus on quality rather than novelty alone, and are therefore ideally suited to complement her publications in more traditional outlets.

Green Open Access OA4

This route is probably the more common, but sometimes less known way to Open Access. Wait… How on earth can that be possible? Green Open Access means that you are able to add a copy of an accepted manuscript to a repository, for example our institutional repository (see how to deposit to the repository via the RIS here).

PS. If you take the Green Open Access route you may NOT add an identical copy of the published version; it has to be a version without the formatting from the journal.

Please note that most, but not all journals allow authors to do this. If you want to check restrictions for a specific journal, you can use an online tool called Sherpa/Romeo. In the example below we have searched for Nature, and as you can see we can archive a pre-print (this is the submitted version, before peer review). However, we need to consider the restrictions where it says “6 months embargo”.


Embargo is like a timer – if the embargo is 6months, it means that the deposited version cannot be available to read or download as full text from a repository until 6months after the publication has appeared in the journal.

Got it?Great!

Now this is where it can get a little complicated… To comply with the REF, an article needs to be in a repository within 3 months of acceptance.

OA6 But… how can we comply with both REF AND the embargo when they want different times?

This is where Jim Jamieson comes in again. All deposits to the repository are reviewed by him. After checking that the correct version is uploaded, he sets the embargo and the article will not be available to read or download until the embargo is over. This way it can comply with both requirements. HEFCE’s open access policy has maximum allowed embargo periods of 12 months for STEM subjects and 24 months for Humanities and Social Sciences. This is mainly the reason why the Green Open Access route is less known; many do not know they are allowed to make an accepted version available. However, it is the author’s responsibility to make sure the deposit is made within the time frame.

Working papers

This is a way to share research freely without worrying about embargo, fees or journals restrictions.

Working paper repositories are a great way of sharing research within a specific field and get feedback from others before submitting to a journal. Working papers are not peer reviewed, though often read and discussed within a community. They are deposited into a repository depending on subject area (e.g. IDEAS/RePEc for Economics or arXiv for Physics/ComputerScience/ Mathematics and more). OA7

One of our academics, John Mills, recently founded a repository for Sport Science papers, SportRxiv. The main reason for creating this repository was that, before going into higher education, John was working as a football coach and wanted to include new, scientific methods into his training. However, he wasn’t able to because he could not access journals without paying a lot of money. He believes research and science should be available for all, and created the repository to help make this happen. This is what the Open Access movement has been about; making research available to everyone and not just for those who can afford it.

If you are still confused about Open Access, you can email Jim Jamieson with any questions. You are also welcome to come and talk to library staff in Square 3 Wednesday 25th October from 11am to 3pm. In addition, we are hosting a Q&A drop-in session in the library on Wednesday 1st November (Special Collections Room, Floor 1). Read more about these events here.

What can you do to celebrate Open Access week?

by Kat Sundsbo, Scholarly Communications and Research Support Manager

October 16, 2017

Designing for digital capabilities in the curriculum

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Are you interested in building digital capability for your students through your teaching?

Although we know digital skills are imperative to the personal and professional future of most students, it is often hard to see where they can be incorporated into the curriculum, or find the time to do it. This course will support participants with designing in opportunities for students to develop relevant digital capabilities into their course, module or unit of learning. There will be associated resources to take away so that activities can be completed and followed up afterwards.

The course has been designed and run by Jisc, an organisation who work to support IT and digital skills in Higher and Further education institutions. This course draws on the learning from their Building digital capability project.

Course details

Date: 16th November 2017
Time: 9:30 – 16:30
Location: Birmingham
To book:

If you do go, let us know how you get on at!

Is email the best option?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Alex ONeill @ 9:00 am


Whether you love it or hate it (or maybe both) email dominates our communication at Essex.

Although we have a very high reliance on email here, it is with good reason: it’s convenient, easy to learn, reliable and we know others within the organisation and outside use and respond to it.

However, whilst email is most definitely the most convenient communication method, is it always the best option? Well, the fact that I’ve written this article obviously implies not, so here I have outlined some arguments for other options. Take a look and see what you might want to try instead this week:

What do I need? What could I try?

Instant response to a quick question

Telephone – good old-fashioned talking to someone can solve your query far quicker than trying to explain it all in writing and waiting for a response.

Skype for Business (instant messaging) – a great way to get quick feedback on short questions, plus you can see whether the person is at their desk by looking at their status. Download it at under Other installations.

Work together with others on a document

Online document editing – this saves me SO much time and confusion as I don’t have to work out which is the latest version or who edited which bits. You can use OneDrive at Essex, which is available on the web or you can sync it to your PC. Google Drive works incredibly well too, if everyone has Google accounts. Features include: editing a document together and at the same time (no different versions), adding comments for others to read and saving historical versions of changes.

Have a conversation with a group of people

Skype for Business (instant messaging) – great for more informal chats. You can invite whoever you want from Essex to a Skype group or search for an existing email group and start a chat from there. Download it at under Other installations.

Social media – informally converse with lots of others inside or outside the University and keep track of conversation threads. We have a business social media site here called Yammer, or you could try Facebook for more in-depth conversations, or Twitter or Instagram for light-hearted chats and picture sharing.

Video or telephone conferencing – sometimes it’s just easier to get something across in speech rather than written text. You can use your SIP telephone to run a telephone conference or hire kits from AVS to use Skype for Business as a video conferencing facility.

Send a teaching announcement

Moodle news forum – if you want to keep all your announcements in one place and easy for students to access later, you can pop it in the news forum in your Moodle course. It will automatically get emailed to everyone on the course and it will also stay in the forum in Moodle. If you want to, you can also encourage students to respond on the forum too.

Organise workload in a team

Trello – a really easy-to-use and versatile tool that works with cards and columns. It’s accessible across devices, you can categorise cards and assign cards to people with deadlines. We use it for managing our work in the Digital Skill Group. I would recommend starting with their inspiration page to get some ideas and get started.

Smartsheet – for larger scale projects or if you want project tracking, Smartsheet is available at Essex. It is a project management tool where you can assign tasks to individuals, set deadlines and see a fancy Gantt chart of your project timeline.

Make notes

OneNote – ties in nicely with all your other Microsoft programs and allows for organising your notes in a big virtual notebook. If you go to you can access it on the web, download it under Other installations and get the app for your phone or tablet. Oh, and it’s free while you work or study at Essex.

Evernote – this is the tool I use for notes and I really wouldn’t be without it now (although I think OneNote is just as good, I just committed to Evernote first)! Again, there are web, desktop and app versions, although you do have to pay if you want to download it on more than 2 devices. I particularly love being able to take different types of notes (audio recordings, photos, handwritten notes) and being able to search all of the notes I’ve ever made.

I hope this post inspires you to try something a bit new this week. If you have a revelation by using one of these tools, or have your own to share, do get in touch with us at – we would love to hear from you!

October 9, 2017

Black History Month in the Library: using digital tools to increase student engagement

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — sjkelly @ 9:00 am

Welcome to the first ever Digital Skills Group blog post! This week, we’ll be talking about how the Library has used Talis Aspire and Box of Broadcasts (BoB) to create an engaging and interactive reading list to tie in with our Black History Month celebrations.