Introduction to Open Access

What to do now?

Engaging in open science need not require a long-term commitment or intensive effort. There are a number of practices and resolutions that researchers can adopt with very little effort that can help advance the overall open science cause while simultaneously benefiting the individual researcher.

  1. Post free copies of previously published articles in a public repository. Over 70% of publishers allow researchers to post an author version of their manuscript online, typically 6-12 months after publication (see section "Publish where you want and archive openly").

  2. Deposit preprints of all manuscripts in publicly accessible repositories as soon as possible – ideally prior to, and no later than, the initial journal submission (see section "Postprints").

  3. Publish in open access venues whenever possible. As discussed in Prestige and journal impact factor, this need not mean forgoing traditional subscription-based journals, as many traditional journals offer the option to pay an additional charge to make one’s article openly accessible.

  4. Publicly share data and materials via a trusted repository. Whenever it is feasible, the data, materials, and analysis code used to generate the findings reported in one’s manuscripts should be shared. Many journals already require authors to share data upon request as a condition of publication; pro-actively sharing data can be significantly more efficient, and offers a variety of other benefits (see section "Resource management and sharing").

  5. Preregister studies. Publicly preregistering one’s experimental design and analysis plan in advance of data collection is an effective means of minimizing bias and enhancing credibility (see section "Open questions"). Since the preregistration document(s) can be written in a form similar to a Methods section, the additional effort required for preregistration is often minimal.


Excerpt from: McKiernan, Erin C., et. al. Point of view: How open science helps researchers succeed. In: eLife 2016;5:e16800. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.16800
Published July 7, 2016