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FAQs about Open Research Online

FAQs about Open Research Online

What is Open Access?

Open Access refers to the free dissemination of research on the internet through repositories and open access journals. Drivers for Open Access include the so-called "serials crisis" (the inability of academic libraries to keep pace with the hyper-inflation of journal subscription prices), the fundamental need for academics to have access to as much of the world's scholarly research as possible, and demands from funding bodies for wider dissemination of the research they pay for. For more information on freely available research see Open Research Collections.

What is an institutional repository?

Institutional repositories are online collections of electronic copies of research papers (also known as e-prints). E-print repositories offer far greater visibility than individual websites as they are all interoperable using the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. See the Open Archives Initiative for further information.

What are the benefits for researchers of depositing e-prints?

  • Wider access: By opening up OU research beyond the limitations of academic publishers' business models (e.g. journal subscriptions), more people will have access to and read research written by Open University researchers.
  • Impact: With wider access comes the possibility of greater impact, not only in terms of citations from other researchers, but also, through providing access to non-academic users (e.g. policy-makers, practitioners, businesses etc.), ORO can help maximise the impact of OU research upon society, the economy, and UK plc.
  • Funding body compliance: Research funding bodies are advocating the use of institutional repositories to improve access to research (see RCUK ).
  • Organization: Researchers and administrators at the Open University and in the wider academic community will be able be able to find, use, and track your research effectively.
  • Preservation: Your research papers are managed, stored and backed up centrally. A more robust alternative to personal web pages.

What are the benefits for the Open University?

  • Raises the research profile of the OU.
  • Provides easily accessible data on publications for promotion and assessment exercises such as RAE 2008, and the new Research Excellence Framework.
  • Counter-balances the monopoly power of journals and manages the OU’s assets.
  • Furthers the Open University's commitment to open access and mission to promote social justice and educational opportunity.

What can I deposit on Open Research Online?

Open University researchers are encouraged to deposit all peer-reviewed research and other high-quality research outputs which meet the "Frascati" definition of research:

  • Journal articles
  • Book chapters
  • Authored books
  • Edited books
  • Conference items
  • Published patents
  • eTheses
  • Other research outputs:
    • Software
    • Internet publication/web output
    • Performance
    • Composition
    • Design
    • Artefact
    • Public exhibition
    • Research report (for external body)
    • Confidential report (for external body)
    • Device or product
    • Digital or visual media
    • Scholarly edition
    • Research dataset or database
    • Special issue of journal

Where copyright allows, each record should be accompanied by the full text. If not, bibliographic details only can be deposited. A link to the online published version should always be included, if available. If this is not included upon deposit, a member of the ORO Team will add it in.

Can I only deposit publications produced whilst working at the OU?

No, you can deposit as complete a record of your publications history as you like, including publications produced whilst working at previous institutions. It really depends on how you want to use ORO: some people like it to be a showcase of their complete publications history; while others prefer it to reflect only their recently published work. Either is fine.

How far back can I go?

As far back as you like. There is no limit. Start with your most recent publications, and then work backwards as and when you can find the time. It is not obligatory to include absolutely everything: some do, some don't. With older publications, some people prefer to include only those for which they still think there is sufficient interest and demand for, or perhaps what they consider to have been their best work, while others are completely non-selective and include absolutely everything they have published.

What about copyright?

Journal articles:
In most cases, you will have signed a copyright agreement or license to publish form upon acceptance of your paper. However, this does not mean you cannot make a copy of your work openly available in ORO. Most publishers will not permit the final published PDF to be made openly accessible, but the vast majority will allow you to deposit the Accepted Manuscript. This is the version that has been peer-reviewed, has had the corrections/comments of the reviewers incorporated, and has been accepted for publication by the Editor-in-Chief of the journal. You will most likely have this version in Microsoft Word format, or whichever word processing package you used to write the paper. This can be attached to your ORO submission, along with any separate files containing figures and tables. A member of the ORO Team will check the open access policy of the publisher before making the item live on ORO. If the full text cannot be deposited, it will be locked from public view; if an embargo is required, this will be added; or if it is discovered that the publisher does in fact allow the final published PDF to be deposited, then the Accepted Manuscript version you attached will be replaced. For more information on the open access policies of academic journals publishers visit the SHERPA/ROMEO site.

Book chapters:
Publishers do not have standard open access policies for book chapters in the same way that they do for journal articles. Therefore, when you deposit the full text of a book chapter, we will assume it cannot be made open access unless you advise us that you have sought and received permission from the publisher, or the terms and conditions of the copyright/licence-to-publish agreement you signed with the publisher permits you to deposit a full text copy in ORO. In terms of which version of a book chapter to deposit, this will depend on what you have agreed when seeking permission, or what is stated in the terms and conditions of the copyright/licence-to-publish agreement.

We do not seek to make the complete text of books openly available in ORO. Books differ greatly to journal articles, book chapters, and other research output types in that they are not "author-giveaway" works. That is, the author or authors of a book are likely to be receiving royalties on sales, and therefore it is not appropriate to compromise that potential through making the text openly accessible. However, it is still well worth depositing bibliographic-only records of books you've written in ORO, not only for completeness in terms of your publications list, but also as it may well help generate sales for you given that we link through to the book on the publisher's site.

Conference items:
Unless you have signed copyright over to the conference organizer, or signed an exclusive license to publish form, then copyright for that conference item will reside with you, the author. You are therefore perfectly within your rights to deposit the full text in ORO if you wish. Some conference organizers will publish the proceedings of the conference as a book, and in these situations you may well have agreed to assign copyright to a third party. However, if it is the case that you have been asked to "extend", "write-up", or "develop" your conference paper for journal submission, only the copyright for that extended or developed version will reside with the journal publisher. Copyright of the original conference version will still reside with you.

Other research output types:
When thinking about depositing the full text of other output types in ORO, apply the same principles as outlined under "Conference items" above. In other words, if you've not assigned copyright to a third party, then the copyright remains with you and you can do what you like with the full text. If you have assigned copyright (e.g. for externally-funded research reports, the commissioning body may hold the copyright), then you would need to seek permission.

How do I deposit papers?

Open University staff can deposit papers in Open Research Online through their User Area where they will be guided through the deposit process using web-based forms. Deposits are checked by the ORO Team before the paper is moved to the public area of the repository. The ORO Help pages give further guidance on the depositing process.

How long does it take an item I submit on the ORO system to become available to users?

We generally aim to make submitted items live in 5 working days depending on satisfactory external verification.

How do I automatically import items onto ORO?

The import function, available via the Manage Deposits screen in ORO, saves time when depositing articles in ORO. Below is some guidance on how to import items using the item's DOI, from the PubMed database, and from an Endnote library. If you have any queries about the import function please contact

Importing an item using its Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

If a journal article has a DOI it will usually be displayed on the abstract page of the publisher's website or on the PDF full-text of the paper. You may also get informed of your paper's DOI in the letter or email of acceptance you receive from the Editor-in-Chief and/or publisher of the journal.

  1. Enter the DOI into the text box. You only need to enter the DOI itself (e.g. 10.1002/spip.230) and not the stem.
  2. Ensure DOI (via Crossref) is selected in the "Select Input Format" drop-down list and click "Test run + import".
  3. You should be taken back to your Manage Deposits screen with the item having been imported into your list.

Note: Importing items using the DOI does not pull in all of the information relating to the article, but it does pull enough for it to be deposited. The ORO Team will add any missing metadata before making the article live on ORO. Also, you can import several DOIs together. Just enter them all in the text box, one per line.

Importing using the PubMed ID:

You can import items from the PubMed database by making a note of the PubMed ID, which is usually found on the contents page or on the abstract page in the form PMID: 16319828

  1. Enter the PubMed ID number into the text box e.g. 16319828. You do not need to enter the PMID.
  2. Choose PubMed ID from the 'Select Input Format' drop-down list and click 'Test run + import'.
  3. You should be taken back to your Manage Deposits screen with a new item in the list. Click on the item in the list to edit/deposit the item.

Note: You can import several IDs together. Just enter them all in the text box, one per line.

Importing from an Endnote library:

To import into ORO from an Endnote library you will need to save the data out of Endnote in the correct format.

  1. Open your Endnote library, go to Edit->Output Styles and tick 'EndNote Export'.
  2. If that option isn't there, go to Edit->Output Styles->Style Manager, find the 'EndNote Export' option and tick it.
  3. Close the Style Manager, go back to Edit->Output Styles and make sure 'EndNote Export' is ticked.
  4. Finally, choose a couple of records (you can do some larger exports when you're happy with the process), go to File->Export, select Text (txt), and Save.
  5. The content of the export file should look like this when viewed in a text editor like Notepad:

  6. %0 Journal Article

    %A Smith, J

    %A Jones, K

    %D 2005

  7. Go to the ORO import screen, click the 'Browse' button and find the file you exported from EndNote. Choose 'EndNote' from the 'Select Input Format' drop-down list and click 'Test run + import'.
  8. You should be taken back to your Manage Deposits screen with a new item in the list.

Importing using a Bibtex file:

Bibtex files can be imported to ORO through the import file options. Many of the standard bibtex entries are processed, although any @comment{text} entires should be removed from the imported file before upload. (Some bibtex bibliography databases, such as BibDesk, use the @comment command to include metadata). For more information on the bibtex format, see

How do I edit items already on ORO?

Once items have been deposited, You can amend live items by clicking the "Submit Changes (Authors/Depositor only)" button at the bottom of any live ORO item page. This allows you to update any details or add full text to records already live. Changes just to bibliographic information will be made live automatically, changes to full text will be checked by the ORO team.

How do I add full text to an existing record?

Uploading the full-text is strongly encouraged and may be required by your research funder or for compliance with other policies. If you have any documents to add to your items already live on the repository, please use the "Submit Changes (Authors/Depositor only) button at the bottom of the item page or email these to We are happy to convert Word documents and other file types into PDFs for you.

How do I export items on ORO?

Items can be exported from ORO in a variety of formats. To export a number of items you need to carry out a search to retrieve a results list. It is not possible to export from a browse list. At the results page you can use the drop-down menu to select an export format.

Can I set up feeds from ORO?

There are a number of options for delivering dynamic content from ORO to external web pages. The simplest way to do this is to use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, and these can be generated from any ORO page, or from any set of search results you have generated. Simply click on the RSS icon to view the feed.

A limitation of the RSS standard is that it will deliver content to your web page in the order it has been added to ORO, i.e. the most recent items. While on the face of things this sounds good and not a limitation at all, it is actually not always the best option for producing publication feeds for staff pages or research group websites because the order in which people deposit items in ORO is rarely the order in which they were published, chronologically-speaking. Therefore, for more tailored feed solutions, you or your website developer/editor will need to use the ORO API (Application Programming Interface). Please contact for more information.

How should I cite items I find in ORO?

When you click on an item in ORO, you will see (under the main title in blue) a reference to the official published version. Always cite this published version, as this will result in the author(s) receiving proper recognition through services that track citation counts (e.g. Thomson's Web of Science).

While you should always cite the published version when referencing the article as a whole, there may be instances (for example if you need to refer to a specific page of the article for a quote), where you will need to cite the ORO version. This is because the page numbering in the ORO version might not match the page numbering in the final published version. If you need to do this, here's how:

Smith, C (2009). How to reference papers in ORO. Open Research Online. Available at: Replace the 'xxxxx' with the item ID from the URL.

In such cases, if you or your institution has access, the preference would be to click through and use the specific page reference from the published version. However, even if citing the ORO version, please try to cite the published version as well so that the author(s) receive proper recognition, as mentioned above.

Why do I have to provide information about myself in order to request a copy of an article found on ORO?

Basically, it is in your own interest to tell the author(s) as much information about yourself as possible. Authors who have deposited research articles in Open Research Online are not obliged to send a copy to any person who requests one, but he or she is much more likely to do so if they realise you have a genuine reason for wanting to read their work. For example, knowing that you are an academic researcher working in a similar field but that you do not have access to the journal in which an article has been published would be a very good reason for requesting a document. Having required fields for you to complete is therefore beneficial to both you and the author(s).

Why have I received a request from someone for a copy of my article through ORO and what should I do about it?

For one of three reasons:

  1. You did not supply a copy of the full text when depositing the item.
  2. The full text you supplied is under embargo.
  3. The full text you supplied could not be made openly accessible due to the publisher's policy on Open Access.

Under all three circumstances, a "Request Copy from OU Author" button would have been added for users to click. This is where the email has come from.

If the reason for receiving the request was b) or c), then the email you have received should contain two links: one to accept the request, and one to decline it. Clicking on the link to accept the request will take you to a page in ORO asking you to confirm that you wish to send the person a copy. The full text attached to the ORO record will then be released by email to the requestor.

Clicking on the link to decline the request will again take you through to a page on ORO, but this time you can enter a reason why you have chosen not to send the person a copy. The reason will be sent to the requestor in an email.

NB: In both cases, you will need to be logged in to ORO for the automatic accept or decline links to work.

If the reason you received the request was a), you will need to physically create and send an email to the requestor, attaching the full text. This is because there would have been no full text attached to the ORO record to be automatically released.

The request copy email you have received (for whatever reason) should include some information about the requestor, e.g. name, email address, affiliation, and their reason for wanting a copy of your article.

All emails are copied to the ORO generic email address so that we can monitor the use of this button, and therefore if we notice you have been emailed by an Open University student or academic and that they do in actual fact have access to the article through Library services, then we will tell them, copying you in.

If after reading this FAQ you are still in any way unsure or uncertain as to how to respond, or indeed if you want the button removed from a particular article (perhaps because you do not have a copy to send), simply contact and someone will be able to assist you further. Similarly, if you want to add the full text to your article's entry in ORO so as to not receive email requests for it in future, again please contact and someone will be able to advise which version can be attached.

Can I deposit my thesis in ORO?

Yes, ORO accepts the deposit of OU-awarded PhD, EdD and MPhil theses. The full text must be included (abstract-only records cannot be deposited), and permission to make any third-party copyrighted material contained in the thesis openly accessible online must have been granted. Theses awarded by another institution can be added to ORO. For theses not awarded by The OU, please only add the bibliographic information and abstract to ORO. For more information, please visit the ORO eTheses help pages.

What is the Frascati definition of research?

In addition to, or instead of, the process of external peer review and publication, the following definition of research can be used to determine eligibility for inclusion in ORO:

[An] original investigation undertaken in order to gain knowledge and understanding. It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, and to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship (creation, development and maintenance of the intellectual infrastructure of subjects and disciplines); the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction. It excludes routine testing and routine analysis of materials, components and processes such as for the maintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques. It also excludes the development of teaching materials that do not embody original research. The majority of research will be funded from external sources.

(OECD 1993 Frascati Manual, ISBN 9264142029)

Why is there missing information on the coversheet?

There are two pieces of information which can sometimes be missing on the coversheet: the copyright holder, and the version of the article. The reason is most likely that the article was deposited in the repository before we began capturing this information, but could also be because we were unable to establish what should be recorded.

Who do I contact for further information about Open Research Online?

For further details about depositing papers, or for any other related enquiries contact

Can I submit 'in press' items to Open Research Online?

If you have had an output (typically a book, journal article or chapter in an edited collection) formally accepted for publication, it is possible in some cases to upload the details to ORO prior to its actual publication. In order to do so, however, you will need to supply the ORO team with evidence that it has been accepted for publication and the expected date of publication. This evidence can take various forms - for example, a page on the publisher's website referencing the output, a scan of a contract (in the case of a book) or an email from a journal editor confirming publication would normally suffice. When entering your output's details, you should use the 'Information for Library Staff' box to alert staff to the fact that this is an in press item and to supply relevant confirmation. Once deposited and checked by the ORO team, it becomes your responsibility to notify the ORO team once the item is actually published, so they can update the item entry to reflect this.

Should I submit unpublished conference items I may later want to submit to a journal?

If you have an unpublished conference paper or presentation which contains content you are considering submitting to a journal at a later date please do not add the full text to ORO. There have been instances where article submissions have been rejected by the publisher because a proportion of the paper had already been made available in the public domain by deposit in ORO.

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