Making Your Research Open: Why and How?

 As a young researcher in a PhD program, I thought Open Access, or “OA,” only referred to fully Open Access journals like PLoS or Frontiers. Making my own papers openly accessible seemed unrealistic; after all, as a new graduate student, submission decisions were not solely up to me, and I barely had a grasp on the publication process in the first place! 

When I learned about preprints and post-prints, my whole outlook changed. These are drafts of academic articles (or other scholarly materials) before they've been submitted for peer-review, or prior to publisher's typesetting, and can usually be legally deposited in Open Access repositories. That means preprints and post-prints make it possible for my manuscripts to be accessible to any English-speaking reader with an Internet connection!  As an early career researcher, preprints are the most feasible route to making work openly accessible.

But if you say the word “preprint” or "post-print" to any of my colleagues or classmates? – blank stares. 

To remedy this, I developed a short workshop on open access for early career researchers, with a particular focus on preprints. In the workshop, I cover three questions: “What is Open Access?”, “Why should I make my research open?”, and perhaps most importantly, “How do I make my work open?” 

In March, I ran our first workshop at McMaster University—my home campus—with the support of the Scientist Association at Mac (thanks, SAM!). By the end of the workshop, at least two of the attendees had already made their manuscripts publicly available through PsyArXiv, a repository for psychology research outputs.  


In May, I was excited to bring the workshop to the Bloorview Research Institute (BRI) in Toronto. For this presentation, I added a slide about how to find open resources (using the Open Access Button and Unpaywall), as well. The workshop was very well-received and generated a great discussion afterwards. Thanks to all at the BRI for your interest and enthusiasm!


The slides for the workshop can be accessed here , and slide notes here

I encourage you to use use them (as they are, or as a template) for your own OA Workshop! I find that the slides take about 30-35 minutes, leaving plenty of time for discussion. If you use the slides – let us know! We’d love to hear about your experience. 



Haley Kragness is a PhD student at McMaster University studying music cognition in children. 

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