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Open access publishing

Open access is a publishing model that aims to reduce barriers to access to research. Learn about your options and opportunities as an author.

What is open access?

Open access is a publishing model that aims to reduce barriers to access to research. Open access provides free public online access to research literature and other scholarly works. Open access models shift the cost of publication from the reader to the author.

There are many approaches to open access, and although none are cost-free, these approaches reduce the cost of research dissemination while maintaining high levels of rigor and quality, and increasing research access and visibility. While open access tends to focus on journal literature, some researchers also explore options for making book publications freely and publicly available.

  • Gold Open Access Journals: Journals that automatically and immediately make their articles available online to all at no cost to readers.
  • Green Open Access option: Journals that permit authors to self-archive their articles in OA repositories. Most major publishers allow authors to self-archive a pre-copyedited version of their work.
  • Hybrid Journals: A subscription journal in which some of the articles are open access. This requires the payment of a publication fee to the publisher in order to publish an article open access, in addition to the continued payment of subscriptions to access all other content.


Why does open access matter?

The traditional publishing model is based on a gift economy. Universities and taxpayers provide funding to researchers to produce research, and authors provide their time to peer-review and their work to publishers free of charge to facilitate the dissemination of their research. There are many costs involved in producing, publishing, providing access and preserving research, and library budgets for purchasing the research to provide access cannot keep up with the ever-increasing costs of publications.

Furthermore, publishers place copyright restrictions on publications as to how the research can be used and shared for teaching, research and learning purposes. The overall result means reduced or no access to research for those who need it the most.

Why choose open access?

Authors are choosing to make their work openly available because:

  • anyone, anywhere can read, use and cite their research which contributes to wider research impact, visibility and collaboration
  • they retain more control over and rights to distribute, adapt and re-use their work
  • funders require outputs for their funded research to be made openly available

"Why open access" by Danny Kingsley and Sarah Brown is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.