Published 12 July 2024

Dissemination & discoverability

Authors expect publishers to ensure that their works are as widely disseminated as possible. This article examines the various methods readers can use to discover and access your research.

Just because a publication is open access does not mean it is discoverable. Open access publishers work hard to ensure that open access publications are available in all the places that you would expect to find a non-open access book. The difference is that, for gold open access in particular access is immediate. In all cases, the Creative Commons (CC) or other licence applied to the publication must be adhered to.


The first place you can expect your open access book to be available is via your publisher. Publishers should make sure that the open access edition of your book is clearly listed next to the printed and other editions that are for sale either online or in a more traditional publisher catalogue. Some publishers have their own platforms, or websites, where they are able to host open access books for readers to freely download.

Vendor platforms

Vendor platforms, such as Project Muse and JSTOR, make the digital version of a book available to the reader as part of a package of other titles, usually via a library subscription. Open access books are increasingly available in these packages. Due to the number of libraries that use these systems, vendor platforms can reach a larger audience. Other platforms, such as the OAPEN Library and OpenEdition Books, specialise in open access publications and are free to all.

Library catalogues and discovery systems

Many open access publishers make their data available to library catalogues, so that open access books can be found alongside their print counterparts. In addition, OAPEN, DOAB and many presses supply data to library discovery systems such as Primo, EDS and Summon to allow open access books to be retrieved in searches of all library material. Many libraries also show their researchers how to find open access content within these systems.

Digital learning environments and reading lists

Check with your research support team if open access books are included in these systems. Kortext and Talis Aspire in the UK and the Unizin Consortium in the US all allow for the inclusion of open access content.

Google Scholar and Google Books

Perhaps surprisingly, it is not straightforward to get open access books indexed by Google Scholar and Google Books. However, OAPEN and many publishers have been successful in getting their lists indexed. The COPIM project is currently working to improve this.

Abstracting and Indexing (A&I) services

Many A&I services accept individual books that are submitted for review and potential acceptance into the index. The format of the book is not relevant to these systems, so open access will be treated in the same way as print. However, it will be more easily accessed if included.

Online book sellers

It can sometimes be complicated to list content with a zero price point - such as open access books - on online retail platforms such as Amazon. However, many suppliers do include open access publications. The COPIM project is working on this for all open access publishers.

Current research information systems and institutional repositories

All authors of open access books are encouraged to make their work available in their own institutional or subject repository. Indeed, many national and international funders, such as Europe’s Horizon 2020 programme, make this a condition of funding. Many institutional repositories are indexed by Google and also CORE, the world’s largest repository of open access research material.

Reference management software

Just like any other material, open access books can easily be listed in research management software, such as Zotero. The process is seamless with the added bonus of instant access.

Communication between scholars

It is important to acknowledge that scholars communicate between themselves (see How will researchers use, re-use and build upon my research?). In fact open access books can be shared far more easily than books behind a paywall, as long as users adhere to the licence of the book in question.

Creative Commons License
This article is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Last edited on 12 July 2024, at 11:20 (+0000)