Open access publication of your dissertation

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Open access publication of your dissertation

Open access publication of your dissertation

Open access publication of your dissertation or thesis. A political point of discussion since 2013, first at national level and since 2016 at European level. What is ‘open access publication’, how does it work and what are the advantages? We will explain it in this blog.

What exactly is open access?

Open access is the movement that provides free and online access to scientific information, such as dissertations, theses and data to everyone, without any financial, legal or technical barriers. That is the purpose of open access publication. In 2017, the Netherlands signed the NPOS, ‘National Plan Open Science’. This plan includes the agreements, requirements and cooperation between the Dutch universities, their libraries and the Royal Library.

The five pillars of open access publication

By publishing open access, we do not only promote knowledge, but the economy and society profit from open access publications too. It provides local entrepreneurs, general practitioners and teachers access to these studies. Open publishing creates a great reach because research can be found faster and is therefore more often quoted.

The VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands) strives for full open access of all publications. They have marked the year 2020 as the year that all dissertations and theses will be published open access for 100%. For this cause they have set five pillars that are phrased as follows:

Negotiation with publishers:

The VSNU entered into negotiations with the main publishers that have ongoing contracts with affiliated institutions. One of the main points of discussion was that the reading contracts for all disciplines would become fully open access without having to pay extra. The differences in publication per discipline have been taken into account in this matter.

International cooperation:

Besides national interest, international open access is also of great value. Together with its partners, the VSNU will keep making an effort for this cause. Realizing international open access is a win-win situation for society. Imagine, worldwide access to all research of renowned universities. In short, an inexhaustible data and information source that provides progress for the international society.


One of the logistic obstacles of open access publication is deposition. Laws and regulations concerning deposition were a real challenge, that was resolved through an amendment clause. Since 2015, the so-called ‘Amendment of Taverne’ applies to the copyright act. Furthermore, universities have agreed on a collective deposit strategy. This has boosted the accessibility of output of their own research.


Arranging and enabling open access dissertations and theses is one thing, maintaining and increasing this, is the next essential step. By monitoring open access publications, you gain insight into achievements and opportunities. Progress and execution is monitored through fixed definitions. With as main ambition a univocal methodology, the VSNU keeps conducting research to alternative methods to monitor open access publications.

Alternative publication platforms:

One of the conditions of a worldwide open access platform, is that it cannot be ‘closed’ by any party or government. By creating an open infrastructure that is accessible to any party and that cannot be claimed, the concept of open access is enabled.

The main advantage of open access

By unrestricted access to international studies, publications and data, future academic research can reuse the information easier and faster. This promotion of future research can speed up progress. Despite the many advantages, the movement is also criticized.

Pros and cons of open access

We have already mentioned a few of the advantages of open access, but besides sharing knowledge and data publicly, there are more advantages.

Pros of open access

Open access publication gives researchers and interested parties across the globe a better chance at development. Before, expensive subscriptions had to be taken out to get access to publications. Because of open access, these are no longer required, as a result of which interested parties without financial means can gain access to those publications.

Open access provides better distribution of research. Academic results and publications are spread faster. This boosts international research.

More quotations and more impact will be the result of faster and wider distribution of publications. The effect of global visibility without obstructions.

Open access does not only provide access between universities. Also companies gain access, promoting economies greatly, as their development increases because of the data and results that are available.

We already cited that continual development is not only an advantage for companies. The possibilities of worldwide access and reuse of research without legal, financial or technical obstructions, gives a huge boost to research. New research can easily make use of existing data and therefore achieving progress and results faster.

Cons of open access

Besides advantages, open access also has some disadvantages. However, when we analyze these disadvantages, they can often be reduced to specific academic disciplines, or are about the transition to open access instead of the publication model itself.

The different disciplines within the academic world, use different assessment systems. In for example social and medical sciences, and in economic sciences, assessments are based on publication in periodicals and academic journals with a high impact factor. Because of the time that is needed to determine the impact factor, the open access publication model is still ‘behind’ compared to conventional journals and periodicals.

That it takes time to create a supply of leading periodicals and academic journals of good quality, also applies to other disciplines. The same is true with the issue concerning assessments of social and medical sciences, this disadvantage is merely a matter of time before it is resolved.

A new way of publication means a new way of working. A good and flexible workflow to publish dissertations and theses, will in the early stages be bumpy and uncomfortable. Because paperwork has not been optimized yet, researchers and the open access journals still struggle.

APC costs have not been fixed well everywhere regarding the transition to open access. Because there are no structural provisions, researchers encounter substantial costs.

The quality of so-called predatory journals is still difficult to check. Next to that, these journals spam researchers to publish. People are working hard to set up a public database of good quality journals for open access publication.

Misconceptions about open access publication

There are still some misconceptions about the open access model. One of these is loss of copyright protection. You do not have to worry about this, by publishing your dissertation online, you will not lose copyright protection. Other common misconceptions are rumours that publication is published without peer review, that it does not receive indexation in scientific databases or that publication does not receive any impact factor.

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