Locating freely accessible environmental research

Image of book by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay 

Ever wanted to follow up  research on a topic but been prevented by it being published in journals that you need to pay for?  Things are changing as part of a publishing revolution.  There is a move to making more research free to everyone.  All the UK Research Councils now require their publicly funded research to be “open access” thereby available to all.  Most  subscription journals will allow a number of freely accessible articles where authors have paid for the article to be free ( an article process charge). Other journals have all their articles completely free to view and these are known as open access journals.  

it is possible to find and read articles on environmental topics by looking out for these open access articles.  Many established publishers such as the Oxford and Cambridge University Presses  are offering free access to new titles or fully open access journals. Springer Nature now offer over 600 fully open access journals on a variety of subjects including environmental topics: https://www.springernature.com/gp/open-research/journals-books/journals and Elsevier over 30 titles covering environmental issues: https://www.elsevier.com/about/open-science/open-access/open-access-journals. You can also  check out the websites of individual journals.  

The following are good sources to try:

  • Cambridge University Press. You can search for open access articles across all their titles https://www.cambridge.org/core/what-we-publish/open-access
  • Directory of Open Access Journals ( DOAJ) available at: https://doaj.org/.  You can search for fully open access journals or even articles by subject.
  • Google Scholar limits your search to academic journals: https://scholar.google.com/.  If the article is freely available, there will be a link to a document.  Alternatively, a link to more versions  may give access to a word document version that an author has been allowed to put in their university repository. Be aware that the pre-publication version can differ from the final published version.  If only an abstract is available, you might find freely available articles under related articles.
  • Oxford University Press. Search for freely available articles and fully open access titles by looking out for the download symbol: https://academic.oup.com/journals/
  • PLOS. The Public Library of Science: https://plos.org/#journals publishes a range of peer-reviewed open access journals covering science and medicine. PLOSOne is their interdisciplinary journal which includes environmental topics.
  • Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/ allows you to search journals published by Elsevier, a leading scientific publisher. Look for the open access symbol next to an article.

 Because it is easier to start up an online open access journal, always check the credentials of the publishers and/or authors.  A useful guide on how to do this is available on the website called Think Check and Submit: https://thinkchecksubmit.org/, built to help researchers identify trusted publications and publishers.

While unfortunately most articles currently remain behind a “paywall”, the chances are that you will find something of interest that you can access without charge.  Have an explore!

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