Open Access at the Douglas

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Open Access publishing

Open Access publishing is one of the most common Open Science practices and is currently a requirement of major funding agencies in Quebec and Canada (e.g., FRQ and Tri-Agency), as well as worldwide.

Open Access increases transparency and access to knowledge, expanding the reach of publications beyond a purely academic readership. This includes healthcare practitioners, non-profits, students, government and beyond. These benefits align with the Douglas’ Open Science principles, which encourage open sharing of research outputs and their use for educational, health, and societal impact.

Open Access publishing can be achieved at three different stages of publication:

  • Submission: self-archiving of pre-prints
  • Acceptance: self-archiving of accepted manuscripts (Green Open Access)
  • Publication: Open Access through journals

While all three options above increase access to knowledge, only self-archiving of accepted manuscripts and open access through journals are compliant with most Open Access policies mandates by funders, which require peer-reviewed versions be made open. These two strategies may be pursued independently or in parallel – for example, authors may save costs for a specific publication by depositing an accepted manuscript in an open repository and avoid paying article processing charges (APCs).

Consult the graphics and sections below to learn more about Open Access mandates and ways to achieve your Open Access publishing goals.


The Douglas Research Centre Open Access Policy
In 2021, the Douglas Researcher Centre adopted the first version of its Open Access policy. This policy mirrors the Open Access policy of the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) published in 2019. Under the current policy, self-archiving of accepted manuscripts and Open Access achieved through journals are both acceptable pathways, as long as publications are made openly available within 12 months of publications.

Our policy provides contextualized information on how to achieve Open Access publishing goals within the Douglas Research Centre’s specific environment:


Download the DRC Open Access Policy here


We note that FRQ has recently updated its Open Access policy to align with Plan S, and will start mandating this new policy for some grant competitions launched in July 2022. While we commit to updating our guidance and policy in due time, we advise authors to consult the FRQ website to determine which policy applies to their specific situations. In addition, authors funded by additional organizations, such as the Tri-Agency, are always recommended to compare the different Open Access policies mandated by each funder.

Defining your Open Access strategy

Meeting Open Access goals is best achieved by knowing when to follow each pathway. For example, opting for Open Access through journals in some cases and self-archiving of accepted manuscripts in others contributes to the financial sustainability of your Open Access strategy. If done correctly (see sections below), both of these pathways comply with Open Access policies.

On the other hand, combining pathways maximizes openness and creates a record of versions of publications. By first depositing pre-prints and then making peer-reviewed versions open, knowledge is made available faster and there is also a gain in transparency and preservation of scholarly work.

As detailed in the sections below, the following tools may help you plan for Open Access publications:

Self-archiving pre-prints

Self-archiving pre-prints is the practice of depositing the version of a manuscript submitted to a journal, prior to formal peer-review, into a pre-print server (e.g., BioRxiv, MedRxiv, PsyRxiv). Pre-prints are openly available, free of charge and increase the pace of knowledge dissemination. In addition, Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are commonly attributed to pre-prints, allowing for citations and recognition of your discoveries from early on. Yet, by not being peer-reviewed pre-prints most often do not fulfill Open Access mandates.

Authors may upload new versions of their manuscript resulting from peer-review cycles. However, once deposited, pre-prints cannot be removed from pre-print servers.

Learn more here about simple rules to consider regarding preprint submission.

How to self-archive a pre-print
  1. Prior to submission, verify if your journal of choice allows you to deposit pre-prints. This information can be found directly on the publisher’s website or summarized in Sherpa Romeo. Need help using Sherpa Romeo? Check out this guide by the McGill Library.
  2. Choose a field-specific or multidisciplinary pre-print server. ASAPbio maintains an extensive directory of pre-print servers and their main characteristics. The most common preprint servers for mental health research are BioRxiv, MedRxiv, and PsyArXiv.
  3. Submit your pre-print. Be sure you are comfortable with all submitted content, as pre-prints cannot be removed (although you can typically update them with a newer version).
  4. Submit your manuscript as usual.
  5. If peer-review results in a further round of submission, you may update your pre-print by going back to step 3.
  6. To comply with Open Access policies, additionally follow one of the two Open Access routes described in the sections below.
Self-archiving accepted manuscripts (Green Open Access)

Self-archiving accepted manuscripts, also called self-archiving post-prints or green Open Access, is the practice of publishing an article in a journal of choice, and in parallel depositing the accepted version of the publication in an Open Access repository (e.g., eScholarship@McGill). This pathway is typically free of charge and compliant with most Open Access policies, as long as embargo periods and copyright considerations imposed by publishers are compatible with funders’ expectations.

Accepted manuscripts are the final version of articles before production by the publisher and contain all edits made as a result of the peer review process. Typically, publishers restrict the versions of the publication that can be deposited, and the final, published versions cannot be used for this purpose.

Self-archiving accepted manuscripts may also be used as a strategy to retroactively open publications – it is never too late to collect previously accepted manuscripts and forward them to eScholarship@McGill!

How to self-archive an accepted manuscript
  1. Prior to submission, verify if embargo periods and copyright restrictions imposed by publishers for self-archiving are compatible with relevant Open Access policies. This information can be found directly on the publisher’s website or summarized in Sherpa Romeo. Need help using Sherpa Romeo? Check out this guide by the McGill Library.
  2. Submit your manuscript as usual.
  3. Send accepted manuscripts to eScholarship@McGill using their email address ( or deposit form.

Tip: act on acceptance! Create a habit of always saving your accepted manuscripts and forwarding them to eScholarship@McGill right upon acceptance. There is no need to wait for the expiration of embargo periods, as their team will handle those for you.

Open Access through journals

Publications can be made Open Access through journals, usually by paying article processing charges (APCs). While APCs are generally expensive ($1,000-$10,000), articles are often openly available at the time of publication. In many cases, APC discounts are available through McGill University.

Open Access jargon frequently includes words such as “gold”, “diamond”, “platinum”, “bronze” and “hybrid” to describe different options for achieving Open Access through journals:

  • Gold journals only publish Open Access publications and require authors to pay APCs
  • Diamond or platinum journals allow Open Access publications but do NOT require payment of APCs (these journals are rare unfortunately in the life and health sciences)
  • Hybrid or bronze journals allow both closed (subscription model, by not paying APCs) and paid open publications. While hybrid journals apply open licenses and facilitate the reuse of content, bronze journals may lack clearly identified licenses. Some funders aligned with Plan S, such as FRQ, are now restricting the eligibility of APC expenses for partially open journals.

How to achieve Open Access through journals 

  1. Search the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), to identify Open Access journals and associated article processing charges (APCs). DOAJ additionally identifies Open Access journals following a set of best practices criteria, empowering authors to fully comply with applicable policies and recognize predatory journals.
  2. Check for article processing charges discounts through McGill University and ensure that APCs are an allowable expense through your funding.
  3. Select Open Access options with the publisher and ensure that APCs have been budgeted.
  4. Optional: send accepted manuscripts to eScholarship@McGill using their email address (eScholarship@McGill) or deposit form; see section above for further details.
Accessing Open Access publications

Open Access publications can be accessed for no cost, regardless of whether browsing through a university network connection or not. This ease of access largely benefits non-academic audiences, including educators, healthcare professionals, and policymakers. In the case of the Douglas community, learning to find Open Access publications is particularly relevant for those not affiliated with McGill University.

Articles that are openly offered through journals are easily findable and readable through the publisher’s websites; however, locating self-archived accepted manuscripts may require a few extra clicks. To locate them, tools such as Unpaywall’s browser extension and Dimensions can be of great help, pointing readers to the best openly available versions of a publication. In addition, repositories such as eScholarship@McGill are indexed by Google Scholar, allowing acceptable manuscripts to be easily discoverable through your usual search processes.

Training resources and opportunities

McGill library frequently offers training on Open Access publishing and other Open Science practices. Please consult their calendar for the next scheduled events. We also invite you to watch recorded versions of two webinars by Scholarly Communications Librarian, Jessica Lange:

To learn more about the academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access, we recommend this review as a starting point.

Need help?

  • Douglas Research Centre 
    The Douglas Open Science team can provide information about Open Access publishing, as well as help you identify the best solutions for specific publications. We can also analyze the Open Access status of your complete publications list and assist you in retroactively opening closed publications.

Isabel Bacellar
Open Science Program Coordinator

  • McGill University
    Researchers are invited to contact the McGill Library for specific questions about the eScholarship@McGill repository (“Repository administrator”) or APC discounts (“Scholarly Communications & Repository Librarian”).