Open Access Week 2016: the case for Open Access and Open Data


This is the first of a series of blog posts produced to celebrate International Open Access Week 2016. See here for full details about the event and what we are doing to support it at RGU.

As far as it concerns researchers in RGU, “Open Access” refers to the concept of making resources freely available online and therefore accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. It also usually includes certain rights regarding the use and re-use of these resources. It can apply to all kinds of resources: research outputs such as journal articles, research data (also referred to as “Open Data”), or exhibitions; educational resources such as course- and lecture materials; and a multitude of other things like legislation, art and music. Although there are a variety of ways in which a resource can be made open access, the main service provided to researchers at RGU is the university’s institutional repository, OpenAIR – an open access database of research outputs.

Open Access is important for a variety of reasons. It benefits society in general by enabling access to research findings for those who cannot otherwise afford it. For publicly-funded research, it also helps to prove the value-for-money that taxpayers are getting. Researchers also accrue benefits from Open Access. It facilitates a larger readership, which in turn leads to an increase in citation counts and therefore a better research profile; the increase in readership can also open up unexpected opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Moreover, engaging with Open Access and Open Data encourage transparency and the sharing of best practice in methodologies. Finally, as a result of all of the benefits above, Open Access is now a requirement in many funding agreements and also in the next Research Excellent Framework (REF). More information on the benefits of Open Access – and the requirements of funders and the REF – is available in the Library’s Researcher Guides.

The following case studies help to illustrate the beneficial impact Open Access can have in terms of enabling innovative research:

  • Measuring populations to improve vaccination coverage

Article = BHARTI, N., DJIBO, A., TATEM, A.J., GRENFELL, B.T. and FERRARI, M.J. 2016. Measuring populations to improve vaccination coverage. Scientific reports [online], article number 34541. Available from:

Researchers use openly accessible satellite data of night-time lights to more accurately measure populations and movements, suggesting improvements to public health in terms of vaccination provision.

  • Identifying children’s doodles in medieval manuscripts

Article = THORPE, D.E. 2016. Young hands, old books: drawings by children in a fourteenth-century manuscript, LJS MS. 361. Cogent arts and humanities [online], 3, article number 1196864. Available from:

 A researcher presents an innovative study of several pieces of marginalia that she discovered whilst examining an openly available manuscript during an unrelated research project.

  •  Human Genome Project

Article = MAXWELL, E. and WILLIAMS, H. [2012]. From ideas to industries: Human Genome Project. Washington, DC: SPARC [online]. Available from:

An international research agreement conducted between 1990 and 2003, in which scientists across the world shared their data in order to successfully map the human genome. This research has resulted in the advancement of medical science as well as making a significant contribution to the global economy.

Keep an eye out for the rest of our Open Access Week blog posts, in which we will be featuring contributions from a selection of RGU academics, as well as introducing a new “Projects” feature for researchers in OpenAIR!

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