Library Services


Open access for books

Advice on how to make monographs and book chapters open access, as well as updates on open access policy developments for these types of output, is here.

Open access policies for books

UKRI (comprising the AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC and STFC, Research England and Innovate UK) is currently reviewing its open access policies. This review is expected to report in early 2020. Monographs are in scope of the review, and will be considered as part of future policies. Separately, Research England is expected to introduce a requirement for open access for monographs and book chapters in the REF after REF2021. The principles of Plan S, including immediate open access and author retention of copyright, apply to monographs, but the timescale is longer than for articles and has not yet been specified.

The Universities UK (UUK) Open Access Monographs Working Group is monitoring progress towards open access publishing for academic books, and is overseeing a study, funded by Research England, Jisc, the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, whose outcome will inform policy decisions. Research England and UUK recognise the potential for open access to monographs, and the growth of open access book publishers including UCL Press, but also the limitations that existing business models, legal issues and technical barriers create.

Publishing a book open access

UCL Press was established as the UK's first fully open access university press in 2015, and currently publishes 40 open access books a year. Its books have been accessed more than 2 million times by readers across the world. UCL Press welcomes proposals for monographs, short monographs, edited volumes and textbooks in all major disciplines in the Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences. UCL Press does not charge UCL authors to publish. 

There are a number of other open access book publishers and open access university presses, and many commercial publishers offer an open access option. Authors normally pay a Book Processing Charge (BPC). Open access books, and their publishers, are listed in the Directory of Open Access Books. Business models for open access books are relatively undeveloped, and institutional funding is not available at UCL, although some funders, including the Wellcome Trust, will pay open access charges for monographs.

Permission for open access

UCL encourages authors of traditional books that have not been published open access to make all or part of the work openly available in UCL Discovery where possible (Green open access). As a monograph author or editor of a collected volume, it is best practice to investigate your publisher's open access options as early as possible. Your contract is likely to include a clause transferring copyright to the publisher, or granting the publisher an exclusive licence to publish. This will prevent you reproducing or reusing the content other than in specified ways. Make sure that the contract includes the right to make part, at least, of the book available in an institutional (open access) repository - and any other rights you want to retain. If it doesn't, ask your publisher to allow this. Contact UCL Library Services' Copyright Team for advice on book contracts. 

Some publishers allow authors to make a chapter of their work available in an institutional (open access) repository as part of their standard terms and conditions. Publishers who allow this, usually after an embargo period and sometimes with other restrictions, include:

Often the permitted version is the accepted manuscript, without the publisher's layout and typesetting. Check your publisher's website (search for "open access", "deposit" and "Green"), and contact UCL's Open Access Team if you need help interpreting publishers' policies.

Making your work open access in UCL Discovery

To make all or part of your work open access in UCL Discovery:

  1. After publication, create a record for your book, and (if you are making a single chapter open access) the relevant chapter, in RPS. Follow our Record a publication in your RPS profile guide, choosing "Book" or "Chapter" as the type in RPS. You will be asked to indicate whether you have permission for open access, and to specify the publisher's embargo period and the version that can be made open access. 
  2. Upload the version that can be made open access (see our Upload your publication to RPS guide). This is usually the accepted manuscript.
  3. UCL's Open Access Team will contact you if we require further information to make your work open access in UCL Discovery.