For Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows
in the United Kingdom

Open access guidance

Preparing your research and data management

As researchers, you will want to take a number of steps before conducting research to ensure that the data you collect is managed and disseminated in an appropriate way. As a first step, it is good practice to complete an access and data management and storage plan ahead of conducting your research and to store that for future need. To seek advice about what your university requires and about your specific circumstances, you should contact your academic supervisor.

Secondly, we require all Commonwealth Scholars to register with ORCID. ORCID stands for Open Researcher and Contributor ID. It is a free service which provides researchers with a unique ID through which to manage their data and share professional information, including publications, with others. You can register by visiting the ORCID website to get started. If you have any difficulties and need to seek help, please ask your supervisor.

What is open access?

‘Open access’ refers to the provision of making published academic research available to all readers. The impetus for open access (OA) is the belief that, as a public good, academic research, especially that which has been publicly funded, should be freely available to everyone worldwide, with limited restrictions on its reuse. Open access policies are increasingly being adopted by higher education institutions, funders and governments, who agree with the principles of open access. OA is part of a larger movement called open science, which includes open data, open source, open methodology, open peer review, citizen science, and open educational resources. All refer to aspects of academic research being made accessible and freely available.

The CSC is keen to support this movement and to ensure that the research it has funded through all postgraduate programmes and professional fellowships is made publicly accessible. This is part of its continuing concern to ensure that opportunities to develop research collaborations and networks across the Commonwealth are available to all members.

There is a large amount of information available online regarding open access, and you should ensure you are aware of your institution’s requirements. Below are some resources you may wish to visit for further advice and guidance:

Why is it important?

Although a lot of academic research is publicly funded, most exists behind the paywalls of academic journals, many of which are published in income-rich countries. This means that much of the best research can only be accessed by the few that can afford to pay for it, either through journal subscriptions or by buying individual articles or special issues. Providing open access to academic research is an important issue globally as well as for those in the international development sector. Scientists, policy-makers, humanitarian organisations and others who struggle to access the latest research findings may have a more limited understanding of current issues which can impact their ability to do their job well and to network with others internationally. In acknowledgement of this, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the CSC has in place the Open and Enhanced Access Policy for all the research that it funds.

How do I make my research open access?

The CSC would like to ensure all Scholar research outputs resulting from Commonwealth Scholarship funding are made open access. As a first step, you will need to ask your supervisor and, if necessary, your postgraduate or research office what the institutional policies are that your university has adopted regarding institutional repositories and open access for graduate or professional research conducted as a result of study at that institution.

It is unlikely that your university will support open access for research that you have conducted prior to registering with it. The UK government policy states that where research has been funded by its programmes (whether on a scholarship or a research grant), they require OA for work that is completed during that period of funding. In the case of Commonwealth Scholarship Commission scholarships, this requirement refers to the work published that has come about because of the study that FCDO has funded. It is likely that some of your work will be published after your scholarship has finished. However, if the work was done during your scholarship you must still acknowledge the CSC and publish in an OA publication in accordance with the regulations of the institution where the work was undertaken.

Commonwealth Scholars are required to make their research green open access, although gold open access is preferred. These are described below:

Green open access – authors deposit an article to be made freely available in an institutional repository (IR) or via a discipline specific repository.

  • This refers to a final version after peer review – i.e. the final corrected author proof.
  • There is usually no charge for depositing an article into an institutional repository (IR), but if you are depositing an article that was published in a non-open access journal originally, then the publisher may insist on certain conditions, such as an embargo period.
  • The article is made freely available without the payment of an article processing charge (APC)

Gold open access – a fee is paid to the publisher to make the final published version freely available, usually via their website.

  • Articles can be published in a fully open access journal or as an open access article in a traditional subscription journal such as Elsevier – this is known as hybrid open access publishing.
  • Publishers often charge a processing fee (article processing charge) on accepted articles to cover expenses incurred through peer review, manuscript preparation, and server space.
  • These charges can be large for high impact journals and you need to check how these might be funded prior to submitting a paper to them. Please discuss this with your supervisor who may be willing to fund this.

What type of publication comes under open access?

The Open and Enhanced Access Policy relates to a wide range of publications resulting from publicly funded research including CSC Commonwealth Scholarships. This includes publications in English as well as other languages with no time limit on the date of publication. The key criterion is whether the publication uses research that has been funded by the CSC. The following are examples of the type of publication to be made available:

  • Research articles published in journals
  • Conference proceedings and publication platforms
  • Monographs
  • Book chapters
  • Edited collections
  • Outputs deposited at institutional or subject repositories

The policy does not include informal papers that are published in-house by your department as reports, working papers, policy briefs etc. This is called ‘grey literature’ and some research groups make this available via their institutional repository.

Making your research open access

The starting point for you is to discover what guidance your university and faculty, department or institute offers on how to make your research open access. You might find information in your postgraduate handbook or from your postgraduate or research office on the procedures you need to follow in order to make your research available through open access. You might also want to ask your course organiser, PhD supervisor, or institution whether and when any financial support is available to pay some of the fees associated with gold open access. If your PhD is part of a funded research programme, then it might fund gold access. For example, if your research is undertaken in a group or in collaboration with a group that is funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Wellcome Trust will cover the costs of gold open access.

When you submit your research to journals, or editors of anthologies, or conference papers, you will need to include an acknowledgement of CSC funding. Commonwealth Scholars should use the following statement:

The research reported here was funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in the UK. I am grateful for their support. All views expressed here are those of the author(s) not the funding body.

You may need to add acknowledgements to co-authors. If your co-authors are also required to acknowledge their own funding, please ensure that acknowledgment of Commonwealth Scholarship funding is attributed to you.