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Open Access

This guide provides an overview of Open Access and related issues.

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) research is research that "is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions."

The term "Open Access" was first formulated at the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) in February of 2002. The initiative grew out of a small meeting in Budapest by the Open Society Foundations that took place in December of 2001. The aim of the meeting was to support an international effort to make research articles freely available via the internet. The original BOAI declaration defined open access to scholarly literature as consisting it 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."

The BOAI was followed in 2003 by the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

Different paths to Open Access

There are different ways in which authors can make their work Open Access. While publishing in an Open Access journal may be the first thing to come to mind for many researchers (i.e. Gold OA), you can also make work published in regular subscription journals Open Access by depositing it in disciplinary or institutional repositories (i.e. Green OA).

  1. Open Access publishing (i.e. Gold OA) -- authors publish in open access journals that make their articles freely accessible online immediately upon publication. Open access journals conduct peer review and allow authors to retain their copyright. These journals sometimes meet their expenses by charging the author a publication fee. Examples of OA publishers are BioMed Central and Public Library of Science (PLoS). There are currently more than 3,200 OA publications listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.
  2. Open Access self-archiving (i.e. Green OA) -- authors publish in a subscription journal, but also make their articles freely accessible online, either by placing them in an institutional repository (e.g. The Research Repository @ WVU) or in a central repository (e.g. PubMed CentralarXiv, Humanities Commons CORE). One benefit of self-archiving is that it allows you to make your work OA without having to pay any publication charges.
  3. Hybrid Open Access -- Some traditional, subscription-based publishers have introduced a "hybrid open access" concept. In this model, the publisher will make an article immediately available to the public if the author pays an additional open-access fee. Frequently referred to as an "open choice" or "paid access" charge, these fees can range from $500-$3,100 per article. Publishers participating in this model include Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley.
  4. Diamond Open Access -- Diamond Open Access are journals that are free to readers, free for authors to publish in. These journals are often community-driven and supported by institutions, such as libraries or scholarly societies. cOAlition S has a report on the global range of Diamond Open Access journals.