Open Access Week 2023 – Publisher deals boost uptake of Open Access for Reading’s researchers

Open Access week logo with the message community over commercialization

The University of Reading has signed up for over 20 ‘read and publish’ deals with major publishers over the past few years. The idea of the deals is that they combine the subscription and publishing elements together so that staff and students can read journal content but also publish Open Access without having to pay Article Processing Charges (APCs). This can make it easier for authors to manage Open Access – there is usually no invoice to sort out –  and has also made it possible for more of Reading’s research outputs to be published as Open Access across a wide range of disciplines.

How many articles have been published via the publisher deals?

A limited number of publisher deals were available as early as 2019 but most large deals have been agreed since 2021/2022. The graph below shows the growth in the number of publications from University of Reading authors that achieved Open Access via a publisher deal. To date, over 1300 papers have been published Open Access through the deals across over 750 different journals.

A bar chart showing the growth in the number of papers published open access through publisher deals. The graph rises from 82 in 2019 to 448 in 2022. The tally for 2023 to date is 316

The figure for 2023 is for papers up to October 2023 and does not reflect the full year total.

The majority of these papers, 91%, have been published in Hybrid Gold Open Access journals. Hybrid journals charge readers a subscription fee and then also require authors to pay an Article Processing Charge (APC) to make their work Open Access. The idea of the read and publish transformative deals is that they should enable publishers to ‘flip’ more journals to a fully Open Access (Pure Gold) model over time.

Do the deals cover a range of journals across disciplines?

A pie chart showing the proportion of papers in the read and publish deals for each subject category

The subject categories, by journal in which they were published, for articles by University of Reading authors that were made Open Access via publisher deals between 2020 and 2023. Data from SciVal.

By analysing the articles by authors at University of Reading that have been published Open Access through publisher deals using SciVal, it is possible to show the range of subject areas covered by the outputs. The sector marked as ‘other’ contains multidisciplinary journals such as PLOS One, Nature etc. When compared with all papers published by University of Reading authors, there seems to be a good match up with the full range of research disciplines across the institution. This indicates that most researchers across the University should be able to find journals in their discipline that are included in the various publisher deals.

Pie chart showing the subject areas for papers published across all of University of Reading 2020-2023.

The subject categories, by journal in which they were published, for all outputs attributed to University of Reading researchers between 2020 and 2023. Data from SciVal.

Looking at the keywords included in the Open Access articles by University of Reading authors, it is clear that they include a wide subject mix, from entrepreneurship to ewes and from snake bites to self-determination theory.

A wordcloud of keywords from the articles published through publisher deals.

A word cloud based on the keywords mentioned in the articles that were published Open Access by University of Reading authors through publisher deals (Data from SciVal).

Finding journals included in the Read and Publish deals using SciFree

As there are over 10,000 different journals included in the publisher deals that University of Reading researchers can access, the SciFree tool has been tailored to help researchers search for relevant journals.  Searching for a journal name in SciFree will provide information on whether the title is included in a deal, what the publishing model for the journal is and how to find out more information on how to access the deal. In the example below, The Journal of Higher Education is shown as being part of the Taylor & Francis deal. Clicking on the red tick will take authors to the Open Access Libguide which explains the deal further and how to make sure that a paper will qualify for automatic Open Access. There is also advice on the correct Creative Commons licence to choose – for University of Reading and most research funders, the best option is CCBY.

Screenshot from the SciFree journal search tool showing a list of journals included in the publisher deals.

The SciFree tool helps to find journals included in the publisher deals and how to ensure you qualify for Open Access.

For all of the publisher deals, the corresponding author of the paper must be based at University of Reading and declare their affiliation as University of Reading at the submission stage. It also helps publishers to identify qualifying authors if they use their Reading email address at submission. Staff and students are eligible for the deals.

Help and support
Many of the publishers involved in Read and Publish deals have information on their websites to guide authors. Examples are Cambridge University Press, Taylor & Francis  and Elsevier.
Staff and students at University of Reading who have questions about the journals covered by the Read and Publish deals should contact for more information. The Open Access Libguide and the SciFree tool tool are also useful sources of additional information.

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Open Access Week 2023 – Publishing to benefit the microbiology community

Open Access week logo with the message community over commercialization


The Microbiology Society is a membership charity and a not-for-profit publisher. Its members are scientists interested in microbes, their effects and their practical uses. They are based in universities, industry, hospitals, research institutes, schools, and other organisations. The Society’s principal goal is to strengthen its culture of being a community-driven Society by amplifying its members’ voices, wherever they are in the world, and empowering them to embed the benefits of microbiology within wider society.

The Society supports and invest in the microbiology community for the benefit of everyone and submissions to its titles ensures that it can continue to provide events, grants and professional development for microbiologists at all career stages, as well as connecting researchers working on pressing global challenges.

For Open Access Week, I asked two Microbiology Society Journal Editors, Seána Duggan Editor of Access Microbiology and Sarah Maddocks Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Microbiology about the Society’s Open Access journey and how publishing with the Microbiology Society supports the community of microbiologists.

Please can you tell us a bit about the Microbiology Society and what it does?

Sarah Maddocks: The Microbiology Society is for anyone interested in and working in any area related to micro-organisms. It was formally established in 1945, with the esteemed Sir Alexander Fleming assuming the role of its inaugural President.

The Microbiology Society serves its members through various avenues, including Annual Conference that highlights significant microbiology, among others. Leveraging the expertise of members, the Society amplifies their voices to drive meaningful change. Central to this success is a comprehensive publishing portfolio, which commenced in 1947 with the launch of the Journal of General Microbiology, currently publishing as Microbiology.

Last year celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Society’s founding journal, Microbiology, which has been at the forefront of disseminating breakthroughs in fundamental and applied research. In recognition of this, Microbiology made a pivotal transition as the first publication within the Society’s portfolio to evolve from a hybrid model to a fully Open Access (OA). Driven by a not-for-profit ethos, revenue generated by publishing in Society journals is used to support Microbiology Society members.

Are you supportive of authors using preprint sites for their papers ahead of formal journal submission?

Seána Duggan: Preprints allow for early and broad peer review. They promote transparency, collaboration, and advancement of science. Generally, the Society portfolio is very supportive of preprints as they can help refine a manuscript before submission for publication. The Society portfolio allows BioRxiv transfers to our journals, and Access Microbiology goes a step further to incorporate preprints within its publishing platform –we host all manuscripts undergoing peer review as preprints, including updated versions throughout the peer review process alongside reviewer and editorial comments. We believe this transparency elevates manuscripts to be the very best they can be.

How do the APCs that the author pay support the Society’s activities?

Sarah Maddocks: By submitting your work to Society journals, you contribute to the sustenance and growth of the microbiology community, benefiting individuals at every stage of their careers. For instance, publishing a single article generates the revenue that can fund grants for four early career members, enabling their attendance at Annual Conference. Publishing two articles generates the revenue that can support research visit grants and Harry Smith summer studentships, which offer invaluable opportunities for collaboration, and experience in research and supervision.

In essence, publishing with the Microbiology Society not only furthers the field of microbiology but also directly contributes to the development and enrichment of our community as a whole. Your involvement is an investment in the future of microbiology, one that we wholeheartedly champion and support.

Have you looked at open peer review models for your journals?

Seána Duggan: While previously we used the single-blind peer review model used by our other Society journals, Access Microbiology has operated transparent peer review since its relaunch as an Open Research Platform in 2022. Manuscripts are posted online as preprints under consideration, and Reviewer and Editor comments are posted alongside each version of the manuscript. We afford Reviewers the choice to post their comments anonymously, but we encourage signing names where possible. This fosters accountability within peer review and attributes credit to reviewers for their valuable work. We believe transparent peer review is a route to equitable publishing and hope to set an example of how successful this can be.

How can Reading authors benefit from the ‘Publish and Read’ deal that we have with Microbiology Society? Why should they use the Society’s journals?

Seána Duggan: A Publish and Read agreement allows individuals affiliated with a P&R institution seamless access to Microbiology Society publications dating back to 1947 as well as unlimited Open Access publishing in our entire portfolio if they are the corresponding author for the paper. This deal provides authors a straightforward route to Open Access publishing, without the associated charges and administrative burden of payment. Publishing in the Society’s journals helps us support the microbiology community through our work, such as holding events, awarding travel grants and studentships. Unlike commercial publishers, revenue generated from our journals returns to the community.

Sarah Maddocks: There are a multitude of author benefits such as making your research accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world; increased impact (on average, 2.6 times more citations and 4 times more usage compared to paywalled content); increased citations (Open Access articles published in our journals receive, on average, twice as many citations as those in hybrid journals and are accessed 3.7 times more frequently); and support of your microbiology community.

Your contribution not only advances the field of microbiology but also ensures that the community thrives and continues to make a meaningful impact.

Karen Rowlett: Some of Reading’s researchers have already taken advantage of the ‘Publish and Read’ deal with the Society. A paper by Alsultan et al. from the School of Biological Sciences and the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at University of Reading was published Open Access in Microbiology in March 2023 via the deal. The paper was made Open Access with a Creative Commons CC BY licence without the need for the authors to complete an Open Access request form beforehand or deal with an invoice from the publisher.  The full citation for the paper is:
Alsultan, AmjedWalton, GemmaAndrews, Simon C. and Clarke, Simon R. (2023) Staphylococcus aureus FadB is a dehydrogenase that mediates cholate resistance and survival under human colonic conditions. Microbiology, 169 (3). doi:

Karen would like to thank the team at Microbiology Society, Seána Duggan Editor of Access Microbiology and Sarah Maddocks Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Microbiology for answering my questions about how the Microbiology Society’s publishing arm supports the microbiology community. For more information on the ‘Publish and Read’ agreement that University of Reading has with Microbiology Society, check the Open Access Libguide or SciFree.


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Open Access Week 2023 – Creating a community Open Access journal

Open Access week logo with the message community over commercialization

As part of Open Access week 2023, I interviewed Dr James Anderson about how he set up a Pure Gold Open Access journal, Transmathematica, to serve his community of mathematicians. James founded the journal in 2018 and the first article was published in June 2019.

Logo of the transmathematica journal.

The journal uses Open Journal Systems, which is open source journal management and publishing software developed, supported, and freely distributed by the Public Knowledge Project under the GNU General Public License.

Can you tell us a bit about you and your career?

Black and white image of Dr James Anderson

Dr James Anderson

I used to be a crane driver but my first academic post was as a Research Assistant at Sussex University, where I wrote computer programs on one of the UK’s first computers that had a visual display. I created test images and programs to collect the responses of human observers and to analyse them to discover how the physical properties of light relate to psychological phenomena — a subject known as psychophysics. After a while I wound up at the University of Reading, first as a Research Fellow and then as a Lecturer in Computer Science, where I researched computer vision.

Why did you decide to start a journal? Was there a particular need within your research community?
For millennia mathematicians have been working to totalise arithmetic so that every operation can be applied to any numbers such that the result is a number. This history is both convoluted and patchy, with different totalisation being known in different parts of the world at different times. Nowadays everyone knows that zero and negative numbers totalise addition and subtraction, that rational and irrational numbers totalise multiplication but, until 1957, it was impossible to divide by zero. Forty years later, in 1997, I discovered a very simple way of dividing by zero, based on the geometry of human and computer vision, that totalises arithmetic, algebra, set theory, calculus, and physics. It removes  guaranteed failure from all of our sciences when they need to divide by zero. Sadly there is huge resistance to division by zero from the ignorant. So much so that few journals can review papers discussing division by zero, leading some mathematicians to conceal their division by zero results in order to be published. I created the multi-disciplinary journal, Transmathematica, in 2018, to provide a safe space to publish research on division by zero and totalisation in all fields of enquiry.

How important was it that the journal was Open Access?
Totalising arithmetic is important in every walk of life. A passenger on the Clapham omnibus does not need to know how computers work to appreciate that having computers calculate numbers with decimal points to twice the accuracy is a good thing. This is just one of the benefits of being able to divide by zero. But if an omnibus passenger does want to know then reading an open access journal is a very good way to satisfy that curiosity.

How difficult was it to find a host for the journal? Did you consider approaching an established publisher before you set up your own publication?
Division by zero is such a well founded and important subject that I had no difficulty signing up a publisher. The plan was to launch the journal with long versions of the best conference papers selected from the first international conference on transreal arithmetic, sponsored by UNESCO, in the summer of 2017 in Rio de Janiero.  Regrettably the publisher withdrew the offer, after the conference, so I established Transmathematica, in 2018, as an online journal using the Open Journal System (OJS) that is used by tens of thousands of journals worldwide.

Was it technically difficult to set up the journal? Were there things that you hadn’t realised you’d need to do?

Setting up an OJS system isn’t for the faint hearted. Some problems can be solved by spending money. The Simon Fraser University in Canada created OJS and offers a journal hosting service. The company Crossref provides Digital Object Identifier (DOI) registration that is integrated with OJS. The company iThenticate provides plagiarism detection reports that are also integrated with OJS. But, sometimes, it is not possible to buy one’s way out of trouble. Some problems can be solved only with fiendish ingenuity: how does one launch an online journal with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) and a distributed online archive when every step seems to require that all of the others steps are already in place?

Setting up the online journal interface also requires a certain ingenuity to display all and only the information one wants readers, authors, reviewers, librarians, and system managers to have. Then there is the task of setting journal policy and procedures to satisfy the Committee on Publication Ethics and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). The DOAJ assumes all journals have a wide authorship, which is certainly not the case for Transmathematica. Maybe a dozen people, world wide, currently publish on total arithmetical systems. All are known to me or to someone I know. It is a small world so we have not, yet, achieved DOAJ registration. Some things are easy. Every academic knows people who will be editors or referees. Finding volunteers is straight forward, managing them is not. But, at least, our readership is happy.

How did you decide how much to charge for Open Access in the journal?
Most of my authors come from developing countries or low income countries so they and their institutions cannot afford large APCs. In common with many Pure Gold Open Access journals, the APC can be waived for authors from the Royal Society’s Open Access Equity list of eligible countries. The running costs of the journal are about £3,000 per year so I set the APC at one tenth of this. If we publish ten papers a year I break even. Some years we get close but I have lost money in every year of running the journal. The authorship base is, slowly, expanding so I hope to break even in the future. Book publishing has much lower costs and negligible recurrent costs so the books might subsidise the journal. But I expect I will increase the APC soon.

What are your future ambitions for the journal?
I am now expanding publication to books. The first Transmathematica title, Built on Sand, is available for pre-order on Amazon with delivery on 1st December 2023:

For my own part, I have launched a journal and a book publisher, I have identified people who will run the Transmathematica publishing house when I am no longer able to. All that remains is to make the journal financially viable.

Karen Rowlett would like to thank James for contributing to this interview and for his insights into publishing for his community.

Many of Dr Anderson’s publications from his time at University of Reading are available through CentAUR and the Green Open Access route. Explore them in CentAUR.

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New booking system for Research Data consultations

We’ve recently launched a new booking system for consultations with the Research Data Team. Whether you’re new to archiving your data, or want a quick refresher, a member of the team will be happy to help.

You can access the new booking system via the UoR Research Data Archive webpage. Just choose between a 30 and 60 minute appointment, and whether you’d like it to be online via Microsoft Teams or in person. You can then select a time that works for you, and suggest a location if you’d prefer an in person appointment. Your appointment will be booked automatically, and we’ll get in touch if we need any further details.

A screenshot showing what the Research Data consultation booking system looks like

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Strengthening our community – University funding for small Open Research projects

The Committee for Open Research and Research Integrity (CORRI) is offering up to £5K to fund one or more small projects to promote the adoption of Open Research practices. The aim of the call is to facilitate collaboration around Open Research amongst our community.

Funding can cover costs for small equipment, access to data, research and travel, fieldwork and practical work, creation of training materials, and support for T&L projects about Open Research. Funds awarded must be spent by the end of July 2023, but it is expected that proposals will contain a vision of the impact and mechanisms for sustainability that will extend beyond the funding period.

Full details are provided in the call document.


Applications must be made by a member of staff (research, support or academic, any School or Function) whose employment with the University extends to at least July 2023. Projects can involve research students but the member of staff must oversee the project throughout the funding period, and ensure alignment with the University’s Strategy for Research and Innovation.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed on the following criteria:


  • Deadline for applications: 6th January 2023
  • Announcement of award: 16th January 2023
  • Funding to be spent by: 31st July 2023

How to apply

Applications can be submitted using the online application form.


If you wish to enquite about this call please contact Dr Etienne Roesch.



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Open Access Week 2022 – ibicus – a python open-source software package for the bias correction of climate models

This image is from the Open Access Week website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

The theme of the 2022 Open Access week was Open for Climate Justice. PhD researchers Fiona Spuler and Jakob Wessel are working on the biases in climate models that lead to difficulties in relating the findings of global climate models to locally changing conditions and extreme events. Although these biases in no way invalidate the overall findings of climate change research,  predictions of climate change, they may affect the impacts felt by local communities directly and hamper activities such as the implementation of flood defence measures.

In this blog post, Fiona and Jakob describe ibicus – a python open-source software package for the statistical bias correction of climate models. The package was developed in partnership with ECMWF and as part of the ECMWF Summer of Weather Code.

Although climate models are continuously improving in their representation of the atmosphere, land, and oceans — not least due to the contributions of various researchers here at the University of Reading — model biases persist. A model bias is defined as a systematic difference between the distribution of a simulated climate statistic compared to the observed climate statistic during the same time period. These biases, or unrealistic representations, in the climate model are, amongst other things, due to the fact that climate models have limited spatial resolution and there are some processes that occur at smaller spatial scales than the model can explicitly capture.

These biases don’t affect the broad findings of climate science regarding the large-scale impacts of anthropogenic climate change. However, they do become an issue when trying to relate the findings of global climate models to locally changing conditions and extreme events: even though slightly misrepresented maximum precipitation events might not matter too much for the overall picture of climate change, they will matter a lot to the community that lives in this region and is asking what type of flood defences to put in place.

An option to deal with these biases is statistical bias correction, which essentially means applying a correction function to the distribution of a meteorological variable such as precipitation or temperature. Although these empirical methods can reduce some biases, they cannot correct fundamental misspecifications of the climate model and are prone to misuse. Nevertheless, bias correction has become common practise and is applied prior to most climate impact studies. Bias correction, if applied, should therefore at least be evaluated with care. This is where ibicus comes in by enabling users compare and evaluate a range of different methodologies in a transparent and easy-to-access way. The package is published open-source and comes with extensive tutorials and documentation, therefore making it as easy as possible to use the best bias correction method for the location and problem at hand.

A representation of climate change via stripes representing different temperatures over time. The stripes change from blue to red and warmer colours as the years progress from 1850-2021

Each stripe represents the average temperature for a single year, relative to the average temperature over the period as a whole. Shades of blue indicate cooler-than-average years, while red shows years that were hotter than average. The stark band of deep red stripes on the right-hand side of the graphic show the rapid heating of our planet in recent decades. Climate warming stripes were created by Ed Hawkins and are used under a CCBY licence

There already exist a variety of channels through which climate research and models are made publicly available – such as the IPCC, or the Copernicus Climate Data Store. However, this does not mean that communities – especially those at the frontlines of the climate crisis – have access to and can easily contribute to research on how climate change is going to impact their lives and livelihoods or develop plans on how they can reduce the impacts. This is due to various reasons – one of them being the unavailability of open-source software to relate the large-scale processes modelled on supercomputers around the world to local realities and impacts. Although ibicus in no way addresses this larger issue, it is with this bigger picture in mind that we developed it and will continue to work on it during our PhDs.

For more information on the package, have a look at the documentation, download the package, or have a look at our presentation at ECMWF here.

Fiona Spuler is a PhD student at the University of Reading at the Meteorology department in collaboration with ECMWF, working on hybrid statistical-dynamical models to improve seasonal forecasts. Jakob Wessel is a PhD student at the University of Exeter in collaboration with the Met office, working on statistical post-processing of weather forecasts with a particular focus on compound extremes.

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Open Access Week – What is the Open Climate Campaign?

The Open Climate Campaign

The theme of Open Access week 2022 is Open for Climate Justice. In this interview, I talked to two members of the Open Climate Campaign about their efforts to make research relating to climate change open so that progress to solving the climate crisis and preserving global biodiversity can be accelerated.


The logo of the Open Climate Campaign is a globe with an open padlock symbol at the top

The logo for the Open Climate Campaign from their website. This image is is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

I talked to Monica Granados and Iryna Kuchma about the campaign. Monica is the open climate campaign manager at Creative Commons, working with SPARC and eifl on the open climate campaign. Her background is as a researcher and she has a PhD in ecology. Monica has worked on climate change problems and when she was doing her PhD and postdoctoral work, she began to realise that the way we were doing science was not the most transparent,  most accessible or most equitable. She began to get interested in the concept of open science and thinking about ways to make science more transparent more accessible and more equitable. She has previously worked as a senior policy advisor at the Government of Canada and is now pat of the open climate campaign; a role that fuses her interests and expertise. Iryna manages the Open Access program at eifl and works with National Library Consortia in Africa, Asia and Europe. eifl was among those organisations that originally coined the term Open Access when the Budapest Open Access initiative was introduced. As I work with libraries in the global South, I was invited to join this campaign by Sparc and Creative Commons. It is really important for us to make sure that researchers from the global South are an instrumental part of this campaign and have a voice.

What are the key aims of the campaign?

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Making the most of SciFree – an interview with the company’s founder

SciFree is a clever tool that helps researchers at University of Reading find out which journals are covered by our Transformative Agreements and deals with publishers. With 17 publisher deals covering over 11,000 different journals it can be difficult to keep track of where researchers can publish their work as Open Access easily and how each deal works. The SciFree tool aims to make it simple and quick to find out whether a journal is included in a deal.

To find out more about how to use the tool, check out our previous ORRB post: Launching SciFree, a new tool for researchers at University of Reading

Access the SciFree tool

A conversation with Abeni Wickham

I talked to Dr Abeni Wickham, the person behind SciFree, about how she worked out that the tool was needed and set about building something to meet the needs of researchers and Libraries.

Abeni has a PhD in Molecular Physics and has studied at UCL and Imperial College in the UK. As she has worked as a researcher she understands the importance of publishing research outputs as Open Access wherever possible. Working with both researchers and librarians, she put together a tool that simplifies the complex landscape of transformative agreements and publisher deals that an institution may have signed up to.

Video snippets will only be visible to University of Reading staff and students via Yuja. A full recording of the interview is available on YouTube.

Why create the SciFree journal search tool?

I asked Abeni about her motivation for creating the SciFree tool.

How does the tool work?

Abeni explains how the tool will help you find out whether a journal is included a  Transformative Agreement or publisher deal that is available to researchers at University of Reading. The tool also helps by pointing you to the right Creative Commons licence and further information about how to qualify for the deal. An added bonus of the tool is that all fully Gold (or Pure Gold) Open Access journals that are included in the search will be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and so should be reputable publications. This takes away a checking step for the researcher.

Tips and tricks for getting the most out of the SciFree tool

If your chosen journal does not appear in the SciFree search, it does not necessarily mean that you won’t be able to publish Open Access in that title. Abeni describes how to work with the Research Engagement team in the University of Reading Library to make sure that you explore all your options for Open Access publishing.

Try the SciFree tool for yourself

Give the SciFree tool a try for yourself and find the perfect journal for your next Open Access publication. This companion blog post explains how to use the tool.

A screenshot of the journal search box in the SciFree journal finder tool

View the full interview via YouTube (for non-University of Reading readers)

Creative Commons License
This blog post and the version of the video interview hosted on YouTube are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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School for Agriculture Policy and Development Open Research Competition 2022/2023

This School for Agriculture Policy and Development (SAPD) Open Research Competition will recognize and reward researchers and students who aim to contribute to making research more accessible, transparent, or reproducible and who can demonstrate understanding of the principles and aims of Open Research (OR). It highlights and celebrates best practice in relation to OR in SAPD and aims to raise awareness and inspire others to become more open in their research.

The competition is open to SAPD research-active members of staff, doctoral research students, graduate students, and undergraduate students, who may apply either as individuals or as a team. There are two categories in this competition:

  • Research-active members of staff & Early Career Researchers (Post-Doc and PhD students)
    Entry in this category is by means of a one-pager case study describing how OR practices have been used in a research context.
  • Students (Undergraduate and Graduate students)
    Entry in this category is by means of a poster in which you showcase what OR is, what it means to you, and how you (could) make use of OR during your studies.

Winners in each category will be invited to present their case/poster in a 10 minute talk and 2nd place winners will be invited to give a 5 minute presentation on their case study/poster during the 3rd SAPD OR seminar (Wednesday 31st May 1-2.30pm). 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place will be determined by a panel of judges. Prizes will be awarded as follows:

1st place: £100 + certificate
2nd and 3rd place: certificate

In addition, shortlisted entries will be announced.

The closing date for entries is Thursday 6th of April at 5 pm.

The Award is administered by the OR Champions of SAPD. The panel of judges consists of: Simon Mortimer (Head of School), Robert Darby (Research Data Manager), and Karen Rowlett (Research Publications Adviser in the Research Engagement Team).

Please refer to the Competition Guidelines and Assessment Criteria before submitting your entry via the Entry Form.

Please send any enquiries concerning the SAPD OR Competition to Marcello DeMaria, at

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Launching SciFree, a new tool for researchers at University of Reading

The University of Reading has lots of Transformative Agreements with publishers whereby staff and students can achieve Open Access for their research outputs easily. In most cases, no invoices are generated and permission for funding for the article processing charge (APC) does not have to be sought in advance. A full list of our current publisher deals and agreements is available on our Open Access Libguide. 

For researchers, navigating through all the publisher deals and how this affects their individual journal choices can be complicated – the deals cover over 11,000 different publications. To simplify this process, University of Reading now has a tool that is customised to reflect our publisher deals. The SciFree tool searches by subject or journal name and lets researchers know if a journal is part of a deal and what to do next.

Please bear in mind that to qualify for the deals:

  • The corresponding author must have a current affiliation to University of Reading
  • You should declare your affiliation as University of Reading
  • You should use your University of Reading email address.

Find out more about SciFree by watching an interview with the company’s founder, Dr Abeni Wickham.

How to use the SciFree tool

The SciFree tool is available at: and is also accessible through the ‘Paying for OA‘ section of our Open Access Libguide.

If you know the title of the journal you want to check

Enter the journal name in the search box:
A screenshot of the journal search box in the SciFree journal finder tool In this case, the journal has been found and there is some additional information to help with your submission and in understanding the terms of the Open Access deal.
This journal is showing as ‘Included in Agreements’ – if you hover over the red tick, you will get the information ‘There is no additional charge to the author for OA publication’. This means that the author can request open access and not worry about invoices or prior approval for the APC from the Open Access Requests team. Clicking on the arrow to expand the information will take you to the relevant page for the deal in the Open Access Libguide. This gives additional information on how to access the deal and what the publisher process will be:

Screenshot from the SciFree tool

CCBY licence logoSciFree also indicates the type of licence that you should choose when you sign the publisher’s agreement. In nearly all cases, you should choose the CC BY version of the licence. This is the most open version and is in line with funders’ policies and the University of Reading’s Open Research mission. Clicking on the arrow in by the licence type in SciFree will take you to the relevant Creative Commons webpage that describes the properties of the selected licence. If you have a specific reason for wanting an alternative licence, you should check with the OA requests team first. It can delay publication if you choose the wrong licence that then has to be changed.

Screenshot of a striped padlock indicating hybrid open accessThe type of Open Access offered by the chosen journal is also indicated in the SciFree tool. In the example above, the journal is classified as a hybrid Gold journal. This means that the journal still charges a subscription fee for readers but also usually levies an additional fee for authors to make their work Open Access.


If you are looking for journals in a particular subject area

Use your subject name in the search box. The tool will return journals with this search term in the title. In the case below, you can see that 128 different journals have been found. You can scroll through them and find the details of the deal for each title.

Screenshot of the results when searching for a subject area - in this case Law

Your chosen journal is not found by the SciFree tool

The tool will not find all the journals that you may be able to obtain Open Access with if you are affiliated with University of Reading.

open Access LogoFully Open Access ‘Gold’ journals

Although the tool contains many fully open access journals published by large publishers such as MDPI, Copernicus, BioMed Central and Frontiers, it does not list all of the journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). If you want to submit to a fully Open Access journal listed in DOAJ, you need to complete the Open Access request form first to obtain funding.

Other hybrid Open Access journals

If you want to publish in a hybrid Open Access journal that does not appear in the SciFree search, please check the APC charged by the journal. If it is less that £1000 (excluding VAT), you may still apply for funding. Complete the Open Access request form to apply for funding. You should do this BEFORE you agree Open Access with the publisher.

Help and support

Further help and support can be found by contacting the Open Access team at University of Reading.

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