Aberdeen takes important step in making research 'open to all'

The University of Aberdeen was established on a foundation to be 'open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others'.

The University of Aberdeen was established on a foundation to be ‘open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others’.

More than five centuries on this commitment continues to be at the heart of the University’s activities. The Aberdeen 2040 vision, which will guide the coming decades, sets out that the institution ‘will work to share our findings, and to promote open access to academic resources for anyone who wishes to learn’.

In line with this, the University’s academic body Senate has approved a new research publications policy that will enhance the accessibility of University research.

Currently, when academics publish their findings, their work can remain hidden behind a paywall, or made openly available only at significant cost to the University.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for researchers around the world to work together to build a bank of knowledge to tackle the spread of the infection. Datasets and academic papers were shared without many of the usual restrictions to speed up and enhance understanding.

The University’s new approved policy follows this collaborative spirit in line with the best practice established by Harvard University. It has the concept of rights retention at its heart and, in accordance with Aberdeen’s Intellectual Property Policy, researchers will retain the copyright over their research publications.

This will ensure researchers comply with the terms of their research grants and with research assessment requirements but, more importantly, it will enable them to disseminate their research freely, widely, and rapidly, to the benefit of society as a whole.

Professor Marion Campbell, Vice-Principal Research at the University of Aberdeen said: “This is an important step towards more transparent research which is open to all.

“Research across our many disciplines underpins important innovation for the benefit of society.

“Supporting researchers to share their expertise and findings more easily will further strengthen the scientific, social and economic impact of this research and make it more accessible and inclusive.” 

The University Library’s open research team is now developing services and advice to support the policy, which will come into effect in 2023.

University Librarian Simon Bains added: “I’m delighted that the University has adopted this policy, which will be a huge step forward in our ability to bring our research to all sectors of society.

“The publication of university research should not be limited by the ability to pay, and so we are adopting a more inclusive and equitable way of sharing our work. The Library is committed to open research methods and will work with our academics to ensure their work is accessible to all.”