Open Access and COVID-19

Kyle Brady
Thursday 26 March 2020

With St Andrews academics, support staff, and students now working off-campus, free and immediate access to scholarly literature online has never been more relevant to our community. Put simply, our homes have become proxies for labs, offices, classrooms, and of course the Library too.

COVID-19 highlights why all research articles should be published Open Access” (Robert Kiley, Head of Research at Wellcome)

When off-campus there can be additional steps that are required to access research literature, for instance in some cases you may be required to access resources via the Library e-resources webpages rather than directly via Google. To help users adapt to researching off-campus the Library has created a new e-resource –  the ‘COVID-19: Online Resources‘ guide. This new guide is designed to help staff and students access content remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also includes information about open access databases where users can access hundreds of millions of freely available research publications.

Open Access Resources - Library COVID-19 e-resourceOpen Access at its heart is about reducing the barriers to accessing research results. Barriers to research may be physical, for instance if travelling to access a print book is not possible; or they may be technical, for instance if off-campus access is not supported by a publisher. Barriers may also be financial, if your institution does not subscribe to a resources, or even political if the country you reside in does not permit access to certain parts of the internet for example.

Publishers have recognised the role Open Access has to play in tackling this pandemic, and 30 have committed to making research relating to the study of COVID-19 and coronavirus freely available on PubMed Central and other publicly accessible repositories. In a recent Wellcome Trust press release, Robert Kiley wrote:

“Researchers have worked tirelessly to generate an unprecedented amount of knowledge since the start of the outbreak. We are delighted that leading publishers will now further support them. By fostering strong collaboration across borders, we can develop effective diagnostics, treatments and vaccines sooner, and ensure that everyone can benefit from the advances made. COVID-19 highlights why all research articles should be published Open Access, something Wellcome has been championing for more than 15 years.” (Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research at Wellcome, Press release)

There are also services that aggregate the content from repositories such as PubMed Central and our own St Andrews Research Repository, making is easier to search across thousands of databases –

CORE – the worlds largest open access database – contains almost 180 million research papers from institutional and subject repositories and journal publishers.

BASE – contains around 160 million documents aggregated from a variety of content providers.


The Open Access Team is working remotely but we remain available for enquiries. So do get in touch by phone or email if you have a question and we will be happy to help as ever. We can also offer remote meetings over Skype or Teams.

Open Access email: [email protected]

Research data management email: [email protected]


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Open Research
Walter Bower House
Eden Campus
Main Street
St Andrews
KY16 0US
Fife, Scotland, UK

Open Access email:
[email protected]
Research Data email:
[email protected]

Phone: 01334 468851(OA) / 01334 462343(RDM)