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Guides & Tutorial, Pao-yue Kong Library, The Polytechnic University of Hong Kong

Open Access: Home

This guide provides information and resources in open access and scholarly publishing.

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) generally refers to making scientific and scholarly knowledge and information freely accessible online. There is a global trend in providing open access to research and scholarly outputs, e.g. articles, conference papers, working papers, theses, etc.

There are two primary ways for delivering OA: OA Journals (or "Gold OA"), and OA Repositories (or "Green OA").

Green OA vs. Gold OA
  Green OA     Gold OA  

Green OA refers to self-archiving/depositing published or pre-publication works in an institutional repository, a disciplinary archive, or a personal website. Authors provide access to preprints or post-prints (with publisher permission) for free public use. 

e.g., PolyU Institutional Research Archive,

Gold OA refers to publishing works in open access journals. The works can be freely accessed via publisher's website, and sometimes an article processing charge (APC) is applied after the work has been accepted and published.

e.g., Public Library of Science (PLoS),  BioMed Central (BMC)

Peer-Review Do not conduct peer review themselves, but articles are usually peer-reviewed elsewhere before publication (within institution, or in peer-reviewed journals). Most OA journals conduct peer review.
Charge Do not charge. APC payable by authors (usually covered by institutions or funders). Sometimes APC can also be discounted or waived (check PolyU OA Membership).
Availability For published articles, embargo period usually applied (6, 12 or 24 months) after publishing online. Immediate available after publishing online.
Copyright Cannot generate permissions for re-use. Copyrights of works may have been transferred to publishers.  Can generate permissions for re-use. Copyrights of works are usually retained by authors.

Benefits of Open Access

  • Easier, faster access and reuse
    Publications can be accessed for free. In terms of Gold OA route, where papers are published in OA journals, full-text of publications are available online shortly after they are accepted; in terms of Green OA route, a version of the full-text (e.g., post-print manuscript) can be made available before the publishers' version is published online. This is of course dependent on publisher's copyright policy. For both routes, authors retain the right to reuse their own works.
  • Faster publishing
    In terms of Gold OA route, OA journals which publish electronically, can minimize the delay in bundling manuscripts into issues. Also, OA journals especially fully OA journals rather than those converted from conventional journals publish considerably more quickly than conventional journals. (Björk, 2013)
  • More collaboration
    OA ensures project members from different universities and countries all have access to the same research outputs.

(Other benefits for authors: see article from

Open Access Mandates

►  Open Access Mandate @ PolyU

More and more funding agencies now require their grant recipients to comply with some level of OA policies. These include Research Grants Council (RGC) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), which are two major funders to PolyU researchers. Both RGC and NSFC require all of their funded or partially funded research to be made publicly available in an OA repository, if the publisher's version is not available in open access.

To support PolyU academic community in disseminating research results widely and freely, and also to comply with the OA mandates from various funding bodies, the Research Committee (RC) of PolyU considered and approved the following open access policy for implementation from the beginning of the 2010/11 academic year:

  PolyU academic and researchers are required to deposit electronic copies of their peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings (author's final accepted manuscript) in the PolyU Institutional Repository (PolyU IR) (currently known as PolyU Research Archive, PolyU IRA) for open access, as of the date of paper publication. Full text of other research outputs should also be deposited where appropriate.

​PolyU authors will provide to the University Library copies of their work and the University Library will determine publisher agreements permit deposit in institutional repositories for public access. PolyU IRA staff will check publishers' copyright agreements to ensure that the deposits are permitted. 

Source: Open Access to Published Research, Research Office (RO)

PolyU's OA Mandate is also searchable at Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP).

►  Open Access Mandates from Funding Agencies

  • Research Grants Council (RGC)

RGC, operates under the aegis of the University Grants Committee (UGC), is responsible for the distribution of funding for academic research projects undertaken by academic staff of those UGC-funded institutions. 

Referring to RGC's Disbursement, Accounting and Monitoring Arrangements for Funding Schemes of July 2015 (Section 35), all RGC funded projects that are approved in 2010/11 onwards require researchers to deposit a copy of their publications in their institutional repository, if the publisher's version is not available in open access.

  35. On public access of publications resulting from research funded by the RGC:
      (a) Upon acceptance of a paper for publication, the PC (Project Coordinator) / PI (Principal Investigator) should check whether the publisher already allows (i) full open access to the publisher’s version, or (ii) the author’s depositing a copy of the paper (either the publisher’s version or the final accepted manuscript after peer-review) in the institutional repository for open access;
      (b) if both (a) (i) and (ii) are not allowed, the PC / PI should request the publisher to allow him/her to place either version (preferably the publisher’s version, but failing that the final accepted version) in his / her institutional repository for restricted access immediately upon publication or after an embargo period of up to 12 months if required by the publisher; and 
      (c) subject to the publisher’s agreement on (a) or (b) above, the PC / PI should deposit a copy of the publication in his/her institutional repository as early as possible but no later than six months after publication or the embargo period, if any.


  • National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)

NSFC is responsible for directing, coordinating and making effective use of the national natural science fund to support basic and applied research in China. It is one of the major basic-science funding agencies in China.

Referring to NSFC Policy Statement on Open Access(OA) to the Research Publications of Its Funded Projects of May 2014, all projects fully or partially funded by NSFC require researchers to deposit a copy of their publications in NSFC online repository, and make them openly accessible within 12 months of publication, if the publisher's version is not available in open access.

  From the day this policy statement is enacted (15 May 2014), research papers generated from projects fully or partially funded by NSFC, when submitted and published in academic journals, the authors of the papers should deposit the final manuscripts, which have been peer reviewed and accepted by the journals to the NSFC repository with an embargo period of no more than 12 months. Earlier OA should be provided if the publisher allows. If the paper is published in an open access journal or the publisher allows deposit of the published version in PDF format, such version should be deposited into the NSFC repository and the OA should be provided immediately.


Quick Links

Open Access Logo

Why Open Access?

Open Access 101, from SPARC from Karen Rustad on Vimeo.

Open Access Explained, from Youtube. See what researchers think about Open Access.

Journals & Funders OA Compliance

Check SHERPA/FACT database to find out whether the journals in which you wish to publish in comply with your funder's OA mandates.


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