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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