Open collections

Information about open-access articles, books, and other 'open' collections available via the Library.


What is open access?

"Open access means making research publications freely available so anyone can benefit from reading and using research."

From JISC's An Introduction to Open Access


Open collections in the Library

The Library’s collections have evolved over time:

  • They started as physical resources a library owned and stored on the library shelves. 
  • The Internet enabled staff and students to instantly access electronic resources from anywhere in the world, so libraries adapted by combining physical resources with a mixture of owned and subscribed electronic resources.
  • More recently, this mix has been further expanded by electronic resources made available openly, without the need for purchase 

The Library’s collections can be discovered through the library search or via the databases or eJournals listings. These collections are aligned to the learning, teaching and research activity of the University. (If a student or member of staff can't find something they need within these collections, the Library can still assist.)

The increasing number of open resources and collections that lie beyond the Library’s purchased and subscribed collections extends the scope of the Library and enhances the breadth of resources that can be accessed, without login or cost barrier.


Library search and open collections

The library search includes many of these open collections and they will be included within the search results. For technical consistency, links to full text will usually defer to paid-for versions of articles, but links to open-access resources are provided where available from the collection provider.

You can see the full list of open collections available from the library search provider. Decisions on which are included by default are made based on technical criteria and alignment with local learning, teaching, and research.

However, the library search has options to both limit search results to 'Open Access / available to non-Hull' and to 'Add results beyond Hull Library's collection', which effectively overrides these default settings.


Search for open-access materials within, and beyond, Hull Library's collections



See this video on how to search for open-access  journal articles using the Library Search.

See the Finding books and journals SkillsGuide for more advice on how to search effectively using the library search and other search tools.

Or see the Open Access: Discovery LibGuide for more advice on finding open-access materials.


Different types of 'open'

The term ‘open’ has been applied to a number of different types of resource and areas of academic practice.  These are distinct but have the common theme of the resource being freely available to all with permissions granted through an open licence (often a Creative Commons licence). 

Type of 'open'Description

Open access

Open access has its origins in making journal articles available without needing to subscribe to a journal.  Most of the open resources available through the library search are open access journal articles.  For more targeted discovery of open-access articles, see our Open Access: Discovery LibGuide.

Open-access books

Open access to literature has expanded from journal articles to books, with a growing number of titles now available.  Guidance on accessing open access books can also be found on the Open Access Discovery LibGuide.

Open educational resources (OER)

Where the material being made available has been created specifically to support teaching, the term OER has been used to describe them.  These materials can be in many different formats, from individual presentations through to full courses.  More information on sources of OER can be found through our Copyright for Teachers SkillsGuide.

Open data

Research publications like articles and books are informed by the data collected by the research being reported.  Much of this data is made available openly to support transparency and integrity of the research process.  See our Research Data Management: Discovering Data LibGuide for pointers on where you can find such data.

Open-source software

Open source software is used widely within academic research as well as other areas of academic practice.  Open source indicates that the code is made openly available for others to use and adapt to meet their needs.  You can find more information about the use open source software in research through the Software Sustainability Institute.

Between them they represent many areas of academic practice and a desire to share openly within that sphere of activity and beyond.

Open research

In a research context, many of the types of ‘open’ described in the table above fit within the wider practice of open research (sometimes referred to as open science, but encompassing all subject areas). 

This practice looks at all aspects of the research process and considers ways of making them open in order to, as for open data, demonstrate transparency and integrity in the research, and support reproducibility of the research process for validation. 

The UK Reproducibility Network is supporting the development of open research practice within UK Higher Education – see our Open Research LibGuide for more information.