What is Open Access?
Peter Suber, the person who wrote the book on Open Access, provides this definition:
Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. OA is compatible with copyright, peer review, revenue (even profit), print, preservation, prestige, quality, career-advancement, indexing, and other features and supportive services associated with conventional scholarly literature.
Forms of Open Access
- Green Open Access refers to “self-archiving” research on a personal website or profile.
- Gold Open Access refers to scholarship published in an Open Access scholarly journal.
- Open Archives refers to scholarly content in subscription publications made available free of charge after an initial embargo period.
- Open Repositories are digital collections of scholarly content on a particular subject or the collected intellectual works of an institution or group of institutions.
Reasons for Publishing Open Access
- Broader readership and exposure
- Greater impact of research and higher citation counts
- Countless digital publishing options
- More access to tax-payer funded research
- More public access to knowledge and information, because it is a public good
What Authors Can Do
- Retain permissions to your scholarship and intellectual property
- Publish your work in an open access journal
- Deposit your work in an open access institutional repository
- Advocate for open access policies at your institution and with your publishers
- Keep current with developments in open access and scholarly communication
General information about Open Access; professional organizations; select institutional guides.
Open Access Overview. Peter Suber's introduction to open access. Suber is a philosopher specializing in the philosophy of law and open access to knowledge.
Open Access Week. An annual global event organized to raise awareness and support open access.
Sherpa/Juliet. Look up your funders' open access policies.
OASIS – Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook. OASIS aims to provide an authoritative ‘sourcebook’ on Open Access, covering the concept, principles, advantages, approaches and means to achieving it.
Scholarly Open Access. Critical analysis of scholarly open access publishing.
OASPA Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association. The mission of OASPA is to support and represent the interests of Open Access journal and book publishers globally in all scientific, technical, and scholarly disciplines.
R2RC Right to Research Coalition. R2RC is an international graduate student coalition committed to open access to student research and scholarship.
Select Open Access Resources
Below are great directories of Open Access scholarship and other resources. There are a lot here, and new ones are always being added!
Social Science Research Network. Devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of social science research and is composed of a number of specialized research networks in each of the social sciences.
OAIster by WorldCat. Union catalog of digital resources; contains digital resources from open archive collections. Represents multidisciplinary resources from more than 1,100 contributors worldwide. Records contain a digital object link allowing users access to the object in a single click.
Directory of Open Access Journals. A comprehensive database of open access scientific and scholarly journals.
OpenAIRE. Based in Europe, provides access to 11,534,086 publications and 7,874 datasets from 5,869 repositories and OA journals.
PLOS Public Library of Science. PLOS (Public Library of Science) is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication.
BioMed Central – The Open Access Publisher. BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher of 265 peer-reviewed open access journals.
PubMed Central. A free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).
ROAR – Registry of Open Access Repositories. The aim of ROAR is to promote the development of open access by providing timely information about the growth and status of repositories throughout the world. Open access to research maximizes research access and thereby also research impact, making research more productive and effective.
ROAD Directory of Open Access scholarly Resources. ROAD provides a free access to a subset of the ISSN Register (1.7 millions of bibliographic records).
Ranking Web of World Repositories. Exhaustive list of repositories world wide.
Open Access Directory. A wiki run by Simmons College and dedicated to open access issues in scholarly research and publishing.
Undergraduate Research Commons. The Undergraduate Research Commons is a research portal and publishing resource for undergraduate students at institutions around the world.
Online Journals Published with Digital Commons. A list of hundreds of open access journals published through the Digital Commons platform, which is what Arcadia uses for our institutional repository ScholarWorks@Arcadia.
American Memory. American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. [Library of Congress]
Chronicling America. Search America’s historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.
arXiv. Open access to 989,444 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics.
Data.gov. Provides easy to find, download, and use datasets that are generated and held by the Federal Government.
Digital Public Library of America – DPLA. Offers a single point of access to millions of items—photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more—from libraries, archives, and museums around the United States.
Encyclopedia of Earth. An electronic reference about the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society.
Federal Digital System. GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) provides free online access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government.
Historical U.S. Newspapers Online. A listing of digitized historical U.S. newspapers available online for free.
Internet Archive. Offers permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.
HathiTrust. A partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.
Open Access FAQs
What Open Access FAQs Cover
Find answers for some of the top misconceptions and misunderstandings that many faculty, staff, and students have about Open Access (OA).
Authors can freely use their own published content.
This is often not true. Most of the time an author transfers the copyright to the publisher at the time of publication, allowing the publisher to restrict the authors’ right to re-use their own content.
Options: Publish in an Open Access publication or a journal that allows an author to retain the rights to re-use their own work. Another option is to negotiate the author’s rights at the time of submission or publication.
Keep Your Copyrights: A Resource for Creators. Designed to help creators hold on to their copyrights and to license their rights on author-friendly terms. Written by legal academics at Columbia Law School.
SHERPA/RoMEO. Use this site to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher’s copyright transfer agreement.
SPARC Author Addendum. Secure your rights as the author of a journal article.
OA journals are not peer-reviewed.
Scholarly Open Access journals follow the same peer-review model that subscription-based journals do. Furthermore, there are many high quality Open Access journals, some featuring very high impact factors as per the Journal Citation Report. While there is some debate over whether Open Access increases citation counts, there is also debate over whether citation counts should be the only measure of research impact.
Options: Use the same standards to judge Open Access journals as one would with any other publisher. Read the content, see who else is publishing there, and look at the impact factor.
Online Journals Published with Digital Commons. This is a list of the many journals published with Digital Commons. Most of these journals include the usual peer-review process.
Open Access Citation Advantage: An Annotated Bibliography. This annotated bibliography lists studies and review articles that examine whether Open Access articles receive more citations than equivalent subscriptions. Wagner, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Winter 2010.
PLoS Article Level Metrics. Article-Level Metrics, a new program started by PLoS in March 2009 puts relevant performance data on articles including online usage, citations, social bookmarks, notes, comments, ratings and blog coverage.
Journals that are peer-reviewed are not OA.
There are many peer-reviewed journals that are and have always been fully Open Access. Furthermore, there are an increasing amount of subscription-based, highly respected, peer-reviewed journals that have started to devote some attention to Open Access in the form of annual Open Access issues or by going completely Open Access. Now that Open Access has gained momentum, if an author is not paying attention they may not be fully aware if the publisher is open or not.
Options: As a contributing author to any publication, lobby for more Open Access. Most scholarly publications will listen to their constituency, so authors are encouraged to speak up on behalf of increasing access to the publication. On the other side, publishers can start to find ways to publish some of their content openly, if not work towards full Open Access.
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Aims to provide centralized access to all Open Access scientific and scholarly journals, all peer-reviewed.
OMICS Group International Peer Review Open Access Journals. One of the leading Open Access Publishing houses, which has around 350 peer-reviewed journals, 30,000 eminent and renowned Editorial Board members, and highly qualified, expert reviewers to meet the objectives of the Peer-Review Process.
There are not any OA journals in my field.
Most of the top journals in any field are still under some type of subscription-based access, though many society journals have started to dedicate annual issues to Open Access, if not exploring full Open Access models altogether.
Options: Publish where you want – that is always the goal for any scholar. If the publication you wish to publish in is not Open Access, try to retain enough rights to your work to be able to openly share a version of your work online after publication. This is known as “Green Open Access”, and actively involves an author making their peer-reviewed scholarship publicly available on a website or institutional repository.
The Committee On Institutional Cooperation. Statement On Publishing Agreements & Addendum To Publication Agreements For Authors
OA has a negative effect on academic promotion.
Promotion and Tenure committees usually base their decisions on research impact and service to the university, among other things. The scholarship presented to them in a review packet is not weighted based on the access model of the journal it was published in, rather the committees are much more interested in the impact that journal has. Furthermore, these committees are not actively investigating if a publisher is Open Access or not, and in some cases a faculty member’s dossier may contain Open Access articles without any party being aware.
Options: Authors should not be concerned if a publication they wish to submit research to is Open Access. As with any publisher, an author will always want to investigate the impact that publication has. In addition, some Promotion and Tenure committees have issued statements in support of Open Access scholarship.
Forging a New Path: Faculty Buy-In for the Institutional Repository and Open Access Publishing. Hixson, Carol G., Tina Neville, and Deborah Henry. “Forging a New Path: Faculty Buy-In for the Institutional Repository and Open Access Publishing.” (2013).
Motivations of Faculty Self-archiving in Institutional Repositories (AU Access). Kim, Jihyun. “Motivations of faculty self-archiving in institutional repositories. “The Journal of Academic Librarianship 37.3 (2011): 246-254.
OA is just a way for libraries to save money.
While it is true that the price of scholarly publications has outpaced the slimming budgets of most libraries, this is not the driving factor for libraries in promoting Open Access. The library is more interested in Open Access as a new publication model that increases access to research, instead of impeding it.
Options: Institutions and advocates can provide increased funding to support Open Access publications and publishing, including institutional and subject repositories. Overall, more research is needed to help discover and develop other new models for increasing access to scholarly works.
Campus-based Open-Access Publishing Funds (SPARC). Explores what funds are being launched, the considerations and decisions involved in their creation, and how existing funds are being managed.
Open Access, Library and Publisher Competition, and the Evolution of General Commerce (AU Access). Odlyzko, Andrew M. “Open Access, library and publisher competition, and the evolution of general commerce.” Evaluation review (2014): 0193841X13514751.
ScholarWorks@Arcadia. A digital repository that collects and shares scholarship produced at Arcadia University with both the University community and the worldwide academic community.
OA and Public Access are the same thing.
Public Access in most cases allows a publisher to place an embargo on research for up to a year or more. Such entities as PubMed Central, the NIH Public Access Policy, or the Federal Research Public Access Act allow for this delayed Access. Only Open Access makes research fully and freely available at the time of publication.
Options: An author can publish in an Open Access journal, which would provide immediate and free access to the work. Additionally, authors can lobby federal and other grant-issuing agencies to keep publisher’s embargo periods as short as possible, or get rid of the embargo altogether.
NIH Public Access Policy. The NIH Public Access Policy requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to PubMed Central immediately upon acceptance for publication.
Federal Research Public Access Act from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. Information about FRPPA and ways to express your support for passage of this legislation.
Economic and Social Returns on Investment in Open Archiving Publicly Funded Research Outputs. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) provided support for a feasibility study, to outline one possible approach to measuring the impacts of the proposed US Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) on returns to public investment in R&D.
Author’s that publish in OA journals must pay to do so.
Imposing author’s fees is just one of the many economic models employed by the hundreds of Open Access publishers, some are completely free to publish in. Furthermore, there are many Open Access funds that an author can apply for to subsidize the author’s fee.
Options: Authors should seek out publishers that do not require any author’s fees, or search for Open Access funds to support the publishing of their research. Additionally, research institutions and scholarly societies should develop Open Access funds to help support authors who seek to publish in Open Access journals that require fees.
Open Access Journal Fund (Simmons College). This is a list of funds to support OA journals. The funds may be hosted by universities, research centers, foundations, or government agencies.
SPARC Open Access Funds. This SPARC project supports experimentation with Open Access funds across institutions of all shapes and sizes.
OA does not work as an economic model.
Open Access has proven to be sustainable economically for a number of scholarly journal publishers in the sciences, and most recently in the humanities. It is also important to highlight that there is not just one economic model for Open Access – some include author’s fees, while others are completely funded.
Options: More professional associations and society publishers should investigate the options and impacts of moving their journals to an Open Access model.
Journal of the Medical Library Association. This is an example of an Open Access journal with no author fees.
Open Access versus Traditional Journal Pricing: Using a Simple “Platform Market” Model to Understand Which Will Win (and Which Should) (AU Access). McCabe, Mark J., Christopher M. Snyder, and Anna Fagin. “Open Access versus Traditional Journal Pricing: Using a Simple “Platform Market” Model to Understand Which Will Win (and Which Should).” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 39.1 (2013): 11-19.
Open Access Journal Economic Issues Bibliography. List of scholarly articles related to the economics of Open Access.
There is no time or resources to make my scholarship OA.
Glossary of Open Access Terms
An online, searchable, web-accessible database containing works of research deposited by scholars. The purpose is both increased access to scholarship and long-term preservation. Digital repositories are often built to serve a specific institution’s community of users, in which cases they are called institutional repositories. There are also discipline-specific digital repositories, like arXiv.org. Most digital repositories may be searched together via OAIster.
A type of digital repository that is designed to collect the work of a particular institution (usually a university), as opposed to a disciplinary repository like arXiv.org. ScholarWorks@Arcadia is the institutional repository of Arcadia University.
The movement among scholars that aims to make scholarly literature freely available on the public web. An umbrella term, open access includes both open access journal publishing and author self-archiving in digital repositories or on personal websites.
From Suber’s Open Access Overview: “Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.”
From the Budapest Open Access Initiative: “By ‘open access’ to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”
Peer Review is the process by which a scholarly journal has structured a reviewing system in that at least two reviewers, excluding in-house editors, evaluate each manuscript and advise the editor as to the acceptance or rejection of the work. “Refereed” is used interchangeably with peer-reviewed in academic journals.
Post-Print (or Author’s Accepted Manuscript)
Some publishers use this term to refer to a scholarly article in its final form, after it has gone through the peer review/refereeing process. Publishers often distinguish between pre- and post-prints in their policies on self-archiving articles. Post-prints are not the PDF produced by the publishers, but may be a Word or PDF version produced by the author. Since additional changes may occur during the Publisher’s production process, post-prints are not considered “the version of record” and thus are of lesser value than the published version of an article. This is the version of the article that comes after the Pre-Print and before the Publisher’s PDF.
A scholarly article submitted for publication but which has not yet gone through peer-review. This is the version of the work that comes before the Author Accepted Manuscript and the Publisher’s PDF.
The final peer reviewed version of a work, with copy editing and typesetting done by the publisher as published in the journal. This is the final “version of record” of the work and comes after the Pre-Print and the Author Accepted Manuscript.
SHERPA/RoMEO website provides an easy interface with information on publishers’ known policies regarding open sharing—whether publisher agreements allow a copy of authors’ papers to be shared or if the journal is an open access (peer reviewed) journal. It is searchable by either publisher name or journal title.