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Scholarly Communication: Open Access

An introductory guide to issues in scholarly communication, including scholarly publishing, copyright, author rights, open access, open educational resources, and institutional repositories.

What is Open Access (OA)?

Open Access (OA) is defined as

  • "The free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results—to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives" (SPARC).
  • Content that is "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions" (Peter Suber).
  • "A system of free, unfettered access to scholarship, learning content, and data in a way that allows it to be widely shared so that all who wish to gain access to it may do so, free of paywalls, access fees, subscriptions or other barriers" (Stephen Bell).

Benefits of OA

Some of the benefits of OA include

  • Providing free, immediate, and equitable access to content.
  • Increasing higher citation rates and research visibility.
  • Promoting innovation and scientific collaboration.
  • Helping authors retain their rights and control of their work.

Illustration Benefits of Open Access Danny Kingsley and Sarah Brown

"Benefits of Open Access" by Danny Kingsley & Sarah Brown is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Models of OA Publishing

Gold OA Model involves publication in an OA journal, which typically requires an article processing charge (APC). Gold OA works are usually peer-reviewed. 

Green OA Model involves self-archiving in a free journal repository. Green OA works are not usually peer-reviewed unless authors choose to deposit peer-reviewed works into an OA repository.

Hybrid OA Model involves publication in a subscription journal that allows authors to pay for their works to be OA.

In all three models, OA content, once published or submitted, is immediately and freely available to everyone.

OA Licensing

OA generally uses Creative Commons (CC) licensing to manage copyright, ensuring authors get credit for their work and outlining any terms related to usage of that work. There are six CC licenses:

If you need assistance selecting a license for your OA work, the Creative Commons License Chooser can provide suggestions based on your needs.

Choosing a CC License for Your Works

The video below presents step-by-step instructions on how to choose a CC license for OER using the new CC License Chooser.

Selected Readings

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)