Open Access in action. Part 1: We transfer what you transfer

Open Access in action Part 1: We transfer what you transfer

The case of the Trauma Research Unit Department of Surgery at Erasmus MC

Since January 1st 2011 it is compulsory for members of the scientific staff of the Erasmus University to deposit their publications in the university’s institutional repository RePub

RePub publishes the scientific output in so called Green Open Access, contributing to a larger visibility of EUR research. 

Reading about Open Access publishing often means reading about opinions and ideologies. Less frequently you see simple, factual stories about the actual practice of depositing publications in a repository: “How does it work?” “What can a researcher do?” “How can support staff help?” “What are the consequences of open access deposit?”

That is why we opt, during this year’s Open Access (OA) Week, for a brief case study, focusing on the Trauma Research Unit Department of Surgery of Erasmus University Medical center. 

Like most research groups at the Erasmus University, the Trauma Research Unit uses a variety of journals to inform their colleagues and the public about their work. Most of the companies that publish those journals, like Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley-Blackwell, have form of open access policy. As a rule they allow their authors at some point to deposit the manuscript version of their articles in an open access institutional repository, such as RePub.

For a number of years now, Dr Esther van Lieshout, research coordinator of the Department of Trauma Surgery, has been collecting the manuscript versions of the articles published by the members of the unit. She sent them via a cloud-based file transfer service, such as WeTransfer, to RePub. 

On the RePub website we have created a special page called “Surgery and Traumatology”, where the publications of the Trauma Research Unit Department of Surgery are presented as a coherent collection. This collection now contains 210 items. With the exception of a few dissertations and letters, all of those items are journal articles. 

For every article the RePub team checks which of the open access scenarios applies. The simplest scenario is the one where an article is offered in open access by the publisher himself. In those cases RePub simply serves as a secondary option for anyone who wishes to read one of the unit’s OA publications.

However, as soon as access to a journal article is restricted to subscribers, RePub often provides an important, supplementary service to the rest of the world. In addition to referring users to the publisher’s “version of record” of an article, it provides access to the manuscript version of the text, supplied to us by Dr Van Lieshout and her colleagues.

By simply gathering the manuscript versions of articles in a consistent manner – in accordance with the EUR’s official Green Road open access policy – the Trauma Research Unit is able to offer almost 85% of its articles in open access in RePub, which is high compared to the present overall figure for open access articles. 

The Trauma Research Unit Department of Surgery is better findable in all different channels for research communication because they publish separate in Green Open Access in RePub.