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Open Access: Finding and Accessing Open Access Resources: Repositories and Preprints

A guide on how to find and access Open Access resources.

Overview: Subject Repositories and Preprints

Subject repositories are Open Access repositories for research outputs within a specific discipline or subject area. Preprints are "research reports that have not yet been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in a scientific journal." (Tijdink et al., 2020). Preprint servers enable authors to publish these earlier versions of their research outputs and, like subject repositories, are also often grouped by discipline or subject area.

How Can I Find Subject and Institutional Repositories?

  • Search via OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access repositories). OpenDOAR is a ‘quality-assured, global directory of Open Access repositories.’ You can search and browse using a range of different criteria, including content type or country.
  • Strathprints is the University’s institutional repository. It is a ‘digital open archive of University of Strathclyde research outputs’. Most universities in the UK and many around the world have their own institutional repository.
  • Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR). ROAR lists and shows the status and growth of repositories across the world. As with OpenDOAR, users can search using different criteria, including location or content type.
  • Google Scholar. When you search via Google Scholar the results will often include content contained in institutional repositories.

Preprints: What, Why, Where?

  • Preprints are research reports that have not yet been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in a scientific journal.
  • Many authors choose to publish their research outputs on preprint servers, as they facilitate rapid publication and wide dissemination (Barczynska, P., 2020). Publishing preprints also enables authors to establish the priority of their work within the scientific record.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted a massive increase in researchers publishing their work via preprint servers and usage of these servers has also increased very significantly. Publishing work via preprint servers has enabled academics to disseminate research about Covid-19 much more quickly than would have been possible via traditional publication routes (Taraboreli, 2020). Many research funders, such as the Wellcome Trust, encourage researchers to post their work to preprint servers (Wellcome Trust, n.d.)
  • Preprint servers can improve the rapid dissemination of research and foster collaborations between researchers
  • However, there are concerns about the way in which preprint articles can potentially lead to the spreading of ‘bad science’ as the articles have not undergone peer review. Readers need to be aware that these articles have not undergone the same rigorous peer review process as conventional journal articles. There are concerns that speed of publication is being prioritised over the quality and reliability of evidence (Burke, 2021).
  • Misinformation disseminated via preprints can misinform policy makers (Tijdink et al., 2020)
  • However, Around 70% of preprints are eventually published in peer reviewed scientific journals (Tijdink et al., 2020)
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