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Open Access: Overview

What is Open Access (OA)?

Open Access content is freely available to all and grants reuse rights to readers. Journal articles, books/chapters, or other types of scholarly content can all be OA. 

Benefits for Research

Open Access publishing benefits the researcher as well as the reader by: 

It has been used now for decades and by some counts, up to 80-90% of research at top-performing universities is already OA in some form.

There are two main forms of Open Access: Green and Gold.

Green Open Access

  • Articles are published in a journal, but you retain the right to place it in an OA or other institutional repository at the same time.
  • The formatted, published article in the journal is immediately available to subscribers.
  • The manuscript version in the repository is available for free, but sometimes only after an embargo period (often 6-12 months) set by the journal.
  • You as an author can retain more of your rights through applying a Creative Commons (CC) license, meaning the content can be more freely distributed and shared.

Gold Open Access

  • The article is published in a journal that (usually) requires Article Processing Charges (APC's), which are paid for either by the author or by the school or funding institution.
  • The article is immediately available to all for free.
  • You as an author can retain more of your rights through applying a Creative Commons (CC) license, meaning the content can be more freely distributed and shared.

A so-called "hybrid" journal is not quite Green or Gold -- hybrid is when the entire journal is traditionally published, but you as an author can choose to pay an APC to make your individual article OA. 

Read here for more on the difference between Green and Gold

OA Quality 

Some researchers and writers worry that Open Access journals are not peer-reviewed or are poor quality. Indeed, some unscrupulous publishers use the pay-to-publish model (Gold OA) to take advantage of researchers eager to get their work published anywhere. 

But there are ways to verify the legitimacy of Open Access sources:

  • Check that the publisher is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association. This organization requires certain quality criteria be verified for all of its member OA publishers, such as transparent peer review. 
  • Think. Check. Submit: