19th Oct 2012

Recently it came to GARNet's attention that many researchers are unsure of open access policies in academic publishing. I have made a list of information about what can be accessed for free and when.

Some funding bodies now demand all research undertaken with their funds be published open access. All journals accommodate this, but it always involved paying a fee, so it is likely that only papers that are required to be open access will be. This means however that in all journals, there will be a few articles which are free to access.

Many journals allow researchers to post toll-free links to their articles on their personal and institutional websites, so if you cannot access an article via the publishers website, it may be possible to get full access via the researcher’s webpage.

I have listed the open access policies of publishers, and highlighted plant science publications where relevant. 


Open access plant science publications:

Nature Publishing Group: Molecular Systems Biology

All BioMedCentral journals: including Plant Methods, BMC Plant Biology

Oxford University Press: Annals of Botany Plants

All Public Library of Science (PLoS) Series journals


Open access after a certain amount of time or on certain articles:

Science: Original research papers are freely accessible with registration on Science's Web site 12 months after publication. Authors may also post the accepted version of the paper on their personal websites and use a ‘referrer link’ on their webpage which allows the user to freely access the paper from the Science website. If required by the fundin body, the paper can be submitted to the funding body’s archives or other database, like PubMedCentral, six months after publication.

Nature: Authors may put the paper on their personal website and submit it to PubMedCentral or other database, six months after publication. 

ASPB (Plant Cell; Plant Physiology): After publication, authors will be provided with a toll-free link providing barrier-free access to the HTML and PDF versions of the article. This can be placed on personal and institutional websites. Papers are deposited in PubMedCentral 12 months after the date of publication.

Wiley-Blackwell: Open access is embargoed for some publications. Free access to Plant Cell & Environment, Molecular Plant Pathology, and Plant Pathology is available after 3 years. Papers in The Plant Journal can be accessed for free after one year. Plant Biotechnology articles cannot be accessed for free unless the authors paid for their article to be open access.  

National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): All articles are free online after 6 months. 

Springer (Planta): Authors may post articles to their own website or into an institutional or funders repository but it cannot be publically available before 12 months after publication. The publisher's PDF version can only be available on and must be linked to by the author with any other version that they have made available elsewhere.

Springer publish some open access journals but none of them are for plant science.

Elsevier (Plant Science; Plant Physiology and Biochemistry; Physiological and Molecular Plant Mathology; Phytochemistry): Authors may put a version of the paper on their website or institutional website, if it cites and links to the original, which must only be available on the publisher’s website. Springer publish some open access journals but none of them are for plant science.

Oxford University Press (Annals of Botany; Journal of Plant Ecology; Molecular Plant; Plant and Cell Physiology; Journal of Experimental Botany): Most Oxford journals have 12 or 24 month embargos on self-archiving and open access.