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Research Support

Open Access Publishing

Open access means that published research is freely available online and in many cases (depending on licence) available for re-use. Benefits to open access includes broadening worldwide access to your research and potential increase in citations.

Open Research in Ireland

RCSI is amongst the list of early endorsers of the new National Framework for the Transition to an Open Research Environment. The document sets out agreed national principles on Open Access to research publications, FAIR research data and the supports needed for this, and is aligned with European Commission policies in these areas. Work will commence shortly on a National Action Plan for implementation.

More information at:



RCSI Open Access Policy 2018

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)

Health Research Board (HRB

Irish Research Council (IRC)


European Research Council (ERC)

Horizon 2020


The Gold Open Access publishing model involves the authors paying for article publication (article processing fee or APC) in a journal but articles are then freely available to readers with no additional subscription charges. Providing the appropriate licence has been agreed, the article may then be shared and re-used. Many journals now offer complete or partial OA or hybrid publishing options. BioMed Central is a major OA publisher in medicine and healthcare. See the Directory of Open Access Journals to identify journals using this model.

RCSI Library has negotiated gold open access agreements with a number of publishers, details of these can be found here.

Also known as self-archiving, the Green Open Access route satisfies open access mandates by funding agencies such as SFI, HRB and HEA. This model allows you to deposit a version of your article in an institutional repository such as the RCSI Repository, the RCSI's publications repository. Benefits also include:

  • preserves your work publicly and indexes on Google Scholar
  • categorises RCSI research output

Permitted versions can be the final published pdf (if it has been published via the gold route), the original submitted manuscript or the accepted manuscript which incorporates changes from the peer review process. The Library team are happy to advise you on publisher permissions – contact us at

RCSI Repository 

RCSI Repository is an open access institutional repository of research and scholarly output of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Formerly known as, it has been relaunched with a new look in December 2019.


Access RCSI Repository

In early 2020 as phase two of this change, the new RCSI Repository will be linked up to RIMS, the Research Information Management System. Submissions to the repository will then be made from your RIMS profile. In the meantime, deposit can be made by emailing your document and details to

The repository aims to:

  • Provide an open-access repository for research staff and students to deposit their academic work so it is freely available on the internet.
  • Aid in disseminating RCSI and related research work to a wider audience, thus increasing worldwide exposure to this work.
  • Provide a central archive and record of research work both for the College and for an individual researcher.

Publishing open access can help RCSI researchers fulfill their funding authority's open access mandate. Most Irish funding authorities, including Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Health Research Board (HRB) and Irish Research Council  (IRC)  now have an open access mandate - this means they require submission of published work funded (in whole or part) by them to an open access repository. Other funding authorities with open access policies include Wellcome and the European Research Council (ERC).

The service is maintained and managed by RCSI Library. If you would like to submit your work to RCSI Repository or if you have any comments or suggestions, please contact the repository administrators


Plan S is an initiative by a group of research funders to make publicly funded research outputs fully and immediately open access.  The international consortium (cOAlition S) is coordinated by Science Europe and includes Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), UK Research and Innovation, Research Council of Norway and others and is supported by the European Research Council and the European Commission. cOAlition S aims for a new model of publishing, characterised not only by immediate, free online access to, but also by largely unrestricted use and re-use of scholarly publications.

The key principle of Plan S is:

After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.

Ten further principles apply, including:  

  • Authors retain copyright and should publish under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence CC-BY .
  • Open access publication fees (APCs) should be standard across Europe and capped.  Fees should be paid for by funders or institutions and not authors.
  • Outputs should be made immediately available in compliant open access journals or platforms.  Hybrid journals (which mix open access articles with subscriptions) are not acceptable. Embargoes are not acceptable.  Examples of open access platforms are HRB Open Research and Wellcome Open Research.
  • Depositing in institutional repositories in addition to OA journals or platforms is encouraged, immediately on publication (Version of Record, or Author’s Accepted Manuscript) without embargo.
  • Publishing open access with a CC BY licence in a journal which is covered by a transformative agreement is acceptable.  Transformative agreements have clear and time-specified commitments to a full open access transition.

Full details of the principles here.  

Implementation guidance has been provided by cOAlition S to flesh out the details of the principles and to include technical requirements.  Feedback was sought from interested parties and based on this feedback, a new edition of the guidance is expected in Spring 2019.

CONUL (Consortium of National and University Libraries) Response to Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S

The Office for Scholarly Communication in the University of Cambridge have published a blog post called Plan S – links, commentary and news items, which attempts to compile a list of discussions and documents around Plan S.

cOAlition S recognises that the new model calls for research funders, institutions, researchers, learned societies, librarians and publishers to work together towards a system of scholarly publishing that is more accessible, efficient, fair and transparent.


Plan S Update

Following a wide consultation exercise revisions have been made to Plan S, the Science Europe-led funder initiative launched last year to push for more open access publishing.

The timeline for compliance has been pushed back to 2021, and some of the criteria for repositories and transitioning from subscription journals have been adjusted.
The main principles remain, that:
No scholarly publication should be locked behind a paywall;
Open Access should be immediate i.e., without embargoes
This can be achieved through an open access journal or an open repository such as the RCSI one, using either the published version (Version of Record) or the peer-reviewed manuscript (Author Accepted Manuscript).
More details at:


Unpaywall Is a project of Impactstory, a not for profit company that aims to  make scholarly research more open, accessible and reusable. This is a free service that locates open-access articles and presents papers that have been legally archived and are freely available as open access. Unpaywall harvests content from over 50,000 journals and open-access repositories from all over the world.

How to install Unpaywall

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Click on three dots in top right hand corner
  3. In the drop down menu, click on more tools
  4. Then click on extensions

Search for Unpaywall and turn it on by sliding the swipe to the right.  When you browse to a paywalled paper and an open access version is avaliable Unpaywall’s grey ‘lock’ icon turns green and ‘unlocks’, clicking on the icon will then bring you to the open access version of the paper.

Gold Open Access Publishing Agreements at RCSI

Though RCSI has no central fund to support paying the Article Processing Charges (APCs) to publishers associated with gold open access, sometimes RCSI Library’s journal subscription agreements do include some element of cover for APC payments.

The tabs in this box detail all current arrangements in place with publishers.

Agreement period: 1 Jan 2021 — 31 Dec 2021

IReL , which includes RCSI, is participating in Annual Reviews’ “Subscribe to Open” initiative which will make all articles published in the five pilot journals OA from 2020, regardless of the author’s affiliation. 

  • The five titles in the pilot are

            i. Annual Review of Cancer Biology

            ii. Annual Review of Environment and Resources

            iii. Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science

            iv. Annual Review of Political Science

            v. Annual Review of Public Health

Further information is available at


RCSI does not currently subscribe to BMJ’s Institutional Fellowship, so RCSI staff and students submitting cases to BMJ Case Reports will need to pay the fees involved.

Agreement period: 1 Jan 2021 – 31 Dec 2021

This agreement provides acces to these titles

  • Genes & Development
  • Genome Research

Authors from IReL subscribing institutions, which include RCSI, will receive a fee waiver of any potential APCs and/or OA-related costs for publishing articles in these journals.


RCSI is now part of a new IReL agreement for access to, and open access publishing in, three Company of Biologists journals:
Journal of Cell Science
Journal of Experimental Biology
This agreement allows RCSI staff to publish open access articles in these journals without needing to pay article processing charges (APCs). During submission, corresponding authors will be asked to provide details of their affiliated institution and whether they require Gold Open Access. It is recommended that corresponding authors should use their RCSI email address to ensure they are identified and processed correctly.
The agreement is in place until the end of 2022. 

Agreement period: 1 Jan 2021 — 31 Dec 2021

Authors from RCSI may publish unlimited open access in ECS journals (Journal of The Electrochemical Society and ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology) without charge.

To avail of this, authors must select 'ECS Plus' under 'Step 6 – Open Access Waivers, Charges and Credits' At the time of manuscript submission to take advantage of an article credit.

This IReL agreement is in place until the end of 2021.

RCSI Library are currently pursuing inclusion in a national deal with Elsevier for open access publishing in ScienceDirect journals. Updates on this will appear here.

RCSI affiliated authors receive a 10% discount on the Article Processing Charges in all MDPI journals. This is through MDPI’s Institutional Open Access Program (IOAP) agreement, renewed annually.


For any manuscript where at least one author is from RCSI, MDPI will grant a 10% reduction on the published APC for the journal. Only one discount is permitted per paper, and the discount cannot be combined with other available discounts.

Agreement Period: 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2023

All eligible corresponding authors affiliated with participating IReL institutions to publish open access articles in these titles:

  • International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology  
  • Journal of General Virology    
  • Journal of Medical Microbiology         
  • Microbiology   
  • Microbial Genomics   
  • Access Microbiology (2516-8290)

Instructions for authors

Microbiology Society’s Read and Publish agreement is designed for simplicity, minimising administration for librarians and to provide a frictionless OA experience for authors. They have provided the following information for authors submitting articles: Author Journey

Agreement Period: 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2023

All eligible corresponding authors affiliated with participating IReL institutions to publish open access articles in these titles:

  • Biology Letters
  • Interface Focus
  • Journal of the Royal Society Interface
  • Notes and Records of the Royal Society
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society A
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B
  • Open Biology
  • Royal Society Open Science

Instructions for authors

Royal Society aim to provide straightforward publishing with Royal Society Read and Publish. They have provided the following instructions on for authors submitting articles: Author Journey

Article Versions & sharing your work

The Green Open Access route satisfies open access mandates by funding agencies such as SFI, HRB and HEA. This model allows you to deposit a version of your article in an institutional repository such as the RCSI Repository.

Knowing which version of your work you can deposit can be difficult to ascertain. Sherpa Romeo can be useful in helping to determine what your rights are; this online resource aggregates and analyses publisher open access policies from around the world and provides summaries of publisher copyright and open access archiving policies on a journal-by-journal basis. Information from here must be double checked against the policies of individuals journals however as policies change over time.

Terminology can differ from publisher to publisher; the table below should help you to decide which version is necessary for your particular needs. 


 Version Stages


 Alternative terms

 Submitted Version

                                                                               The version originally submitted to the  journal     before peer review and corrections

 Preprint, Author's original draft

 Accepted Version   

 The accepted version, after peer review but   prior to the final copy-editing and layout

 ​Postprint, Accepted Manuscript, Author’s   Accepted Manuscript

 Published Version

 An exact digital replica of the published article

 ​Postprint, Version of record, Publisher's   version













Image credit: Ryan Regier, CC BY. Book image by Benny Forsberg.

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, produced by Jason Schmitt, provides focus on the need for open access to research and science, questions the rationale behind the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, examines the 35-40% profit margin associated with the top academic publisher Elsevier and looks at how that profit margin is often greater than some of the most profitable tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google. For more information please visit: