About the project

This is a doctoral research project from the University of Sheffield Information School exploring open access* to scholarly research outside academia. Funded by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities.


[Image reads “Open Access” in orange, with picture of OA ‘padlock’ logo]

*Open access in this context means that research publications are available online free of charge for anyone to read, use, and share. Traditionally, research was published in hard copy academic journals and books, which could be accessed through a university or public library. Nowadays most research is published in digital form, and is available online. However, this research is often only accessible if you belong to a university with a subscription, or you pay a one-off fee. This is now regarded by many people as unfair, and universities and publishers are now working to find ways to make research publications “open access” (you can find out more about open access on Wikipedia). This means that it is now not only university staff and students who have access to research, but also people outside of academia – practitioners, policy makers, charities, small businesses and members of the public.

This research aims to investigate the potential impact of open access outside of academia. It will focus on open access to research in the fields of medicine and education. The study will analyse the experiences and perspectives of a range of key stakeholders, identify barriers and challenges to providing access to research to a wider audience, and ask questions of what we mean by ‘access’ in the first place.

We are currently seeking to interview a range of participants, including members of the public who have accessed medical or educational research for personal reasons, practitioners who access research as part of their work, and people who work for research funders, charities and open access publishers. Have a look at our Call for Participants or contact ebnunn1@sheffield.ac.uk if you are interested in participating in the project.

Lead Researcher: Emily Nunn

Supervisors: Professor Stephen Pinfield, University of Sheffield

Professor Peter Bath, University of Sheffield

This research has been granted ethical approval by the University of Sheffield.