5. In depth

Open access: opening research to build knowledge

UPF promotes open access to enhance its model of responsible research.


Foto de llibres de la biblioteca

Open access is an international initiative that advocates permanent, free, unrestricted access to scientific output with a view to promoting its accessibility, visibility and impact. That means that anyone in the world can access the content of a scientific article simply by having Internet access. It includes scientific articles, research data and academic papers in general. Open access acknowledges review processes and copyright, as it is offered subject to certain legal conditions to respect intellectual property. 

Open access acknowledges review processes and copyright, as it is offered subject to certain legal conditions to respect intellectual property.

In recent years, open access has been consolidated through initiatives promoted by various university institutions based on the Budapest, Bethesda and Berlin (BBB) declarations from the turn of the century. Lately, the open-access movement has evolved, and today the European Commission is promoting open science, which aims to make research results reusable by others and, thus, to generate more and better knowledge. It is a new approach to the scientific process, based on cooperative work and new ways of disseminating knowledge through the use of technologies and new collaborative tools. It also places special emphasis on the idea that research should be conducted with and for society and includes the concepts of both citizen science and responsible science (RRI).

Several actions provided for under the university’s Strategic Plan include the promotion of open science, whether by UPF itself or through bodies such as the Catalan Consortium of University Services (CSUC) or the Young European Research Universities Network (YERUN). According to Enric Vallduví, vice-rector for research projects, ‘We are working to improve infrastructure and support services and to disseminate and encourage the “cultural” change that open access and open science as a new model entail.’

How is open access being promoted?

According to Alea López de San Román, a policy officer at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation, ‘Open access to scientific publications and research data is part of the open-science policy promoted by the European Commission. The research and innovation framework programmes are an excellent tool for promoting this policy.’

She continued, ‘All beneficiaries of the Horizon 2020 programme have to allow open access to their scientific publications. They are also encouraged to offer open access to their research data, although in that case the Commission applies the “as open as possible, as closed as necessary” principle. Under that principle, the beneficiaries can decide to close access for reasons of intellectual property, privacy concerns or the commercialization of the results, amongst other things.’

Foto de la biblioteca del Dipòsit de les Aigües

"All beneficiaries of the Horizon 2020 programme have to allow open access to their scientific publications"

In addition to research and innovation programmes, several other initiatives and instruments are used to promote open access. One example is ‘the future launch of Open Research Europe, a platform for framework programme beneficiaries to publish in open access free of charge. Another recent instrument is the revised recommendation regarding access to scientific data and its preservation, which encourages Member States to adopt open-access policies’, López de San Román explained.

At the national level, researchers participating in competitive projects (National R&D&I Plan) have to publish a digital version of any papers accepted by journals as soon as possible and, at the latest, six or twelve months after the official date of publication.

Open-access publishing

Why choose open-access publishing?

Open-access publishing has several benefits. For one thing, it increases the dissemination of research results, boosting the publication’s impact with the ensuing increase in the number of citations. For another, not only does it increase research groups’ visibility, it also helps give greater visibility to the institutions that they are part of. Additionally, it ensures the collection and preservation of the research results, thereby enabling permanent access to them.

Open-access publishing increases the dissemination of research results, boosting the publication’s impact with the ensuing increase in the number of citations.

Scientific journals often charge a fee to publish research results in open source. Once the research results have been published, the university pays a considerable sum to subscribe to the scientific journals containing that research. For instance, UPF’s digital library had a budget of €1,185,000 in 2018 to offer access to journals, e-books and databases.

Options for publishing in open access

There are three ways to publish a paper in open access: 

  1. Publishing in open-access academic journals (gold route): these are journals that do not put up any barriers to their content and, moreover, allow reuse, usually through a licence, provided the integrity of the published papers is respected and the authorship acknowledged.  

  2. Publishing a paper that has been published in a journal in a repository (green route): Most publishers allow the deposit of either a reproduction of the published article or one of the preliminary editions (preprint or postprint). This option does not involve any monetary cost.  

  3. Publishing in hybrid journals: authors or their institutions pay a fee known as the article-processing charge, or APC, to publish their paper with open access; the rest of the journal’s articles can only be viewed by subscribers. The average cost of publishing a paper in a scientific journal ranges from €1,000 to €4,000.

How does UPF promote open access? 

UPF has been actively committed to open access for many years. In 2006, it signed the Berlin Declaration and, in 2001, it adopted an institutional policy to promote open access. The university also has an institutional repository and support and advisory services for researchers. By way of example: the average percentage of publications in open source by UPF (taking into account WoS and Scopus articles between 2016 and 2018) is 61%, one of the highest in the Catalan university system.

More than 60% of the 2017 UPF scientific publications collected in WoS and Scopus are in open access



According to Vallduví, a push is still needed to achieve full open access, a horizon that the main public and private funding bodies, with the support of the European Commission, have set for the 2020-2023 period. ‘The road to achieving that milestone is strewn with challenges that must be overcome and questions that are subject to debate. However, convergence on open access and the concept of open science clearly seems to be a road of no return’, he stressed.




Source: Open Access Observatory with data from WoS (Web of Science) and Scopus.

The UPF Library: a key player

‘The Library’s mission is to offer services to contribute to excellence in teaching and research, and we are committed to supporting the goals that UPF has set with regard to open science. To this end, together with the IT Service, we offer researchers an institutional repository: the e-Repository’, said Anna Casaldàliga, deputy director of the library. It is an online open-access portal that meets international standards and aims to store, preserve and disseminate the university community’s academic and scientific output. It includes publications (journal articles, theses, conference texts, books, scientific-technical documents, etc.) by UPF teaching and research staff.


The UPF e-Repository brings together more than 17,000 documents in open access


‘At the Library, we offer guidance on intellectual property issues, we help researchers meet the requirements of funding agencies and we offer training and support in the various aspects of open-access publishing and in research data management. In short, we work to make the path to open access and open science easier’, Casaldàliga explained.

For this work to be successful, researchers must collaborate. ‘There needs to be a first step. We recommend researchers to enter each new paper they publish in the Scientific Output Portal, attaching the postprint file. That starting point sets off a series of actions that ultimately lead to open-access publication’, Casaldàliga said.


List of authors with more articles in the e-Repository




Xavier Serra



Roderic Guigó



Jordi Sunyer



Rafael Maldonado



Gustavo Deco



Daniel Cassany



Carlos Scolari



Leo Wanner


Benefits of publishing in institutional repositories (source: CRUE): 

Institutional repositories allow researchers to:

  • Publish their research results in open access and thus meet funding agency requirements

  • Increase their visibility and impact and achieve more citations

  • Ensure proper copyright management

  • Ensure permanent access to their papers through permanent links

  • Deposit unpublished documents 

Institutional repositories allow the university to:

  • Collect and disseminate scientific and academic output

  • Increase visibility

  • Preserve the work 

Institutional repositories allow society to:

  • Access knowledge

  • Ensure visibility and accountability for the public investment made

  • Reduce inequality with regard to access to information 


‘Open science brings us closer to a more ethical and responsible research model from a social perspective’, Vallduví explained. ‘At the same time, when we make publications and research data accessible, we are also promoting reproducibility, the reuse of results and transparency, which increases the visibility and impact of our activity.’ The vice-rector concludes, ‘That facilitates cooperation with other agents in the international research system and, what’s more, helps make UPF’s contribution to scientific progress in general, in all areas of knowledge, even more significant.’ 

‘At the same time, when we make publications and research data accessible, we are also promoting reproducibility, the reuse of results and transparency'