Open Access

Open Access Explained
Learn More About Open Access
Open Access / الوصول الحر
Gold Open Access / الوصول الحر الذهبي
Green Open Access / الوصول الحر الأخضر
Repository / مستودع رقمي
Preprints / مسودات البحوث غير المحكّمة
Postprints / مسودات البحوث المحكّمة
Self-Archiving / الأرشفة الذاتية
Directory of Open Access Journals, DOAJ / دليل دوريات الوصول الحر، دواج
Open Source Software / البرمجيات المفتوحة المصدر
Creative Commons / المشاع الإبداعي
Introduction to Open Access

"Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment." 

Source: Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)

Why Open Access

Researchers engage and invest in research to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, to encourage innovation, to enrich education, to stimulate the economy, and to improve the public good. Communicating research results is an essential component of the research process. Research advances knowledge through shared results, and the value of an investment in research is maximized through wide use of research results. Researchers can't use research if they can't access it.

Due to cost barriers or use restrictions, research results are often not available to the full community of potential users. The Internet gives us the opportunity to bring research results to a worldwide audience at a low marginal cost, and allows us to use research in new and innovative ways. This has resulted in a call for new framework to allow research results to be more easily accessed and used — the call for Open Access. 

Excerpted from: Open Access, SPARC

Open Access Can Be Complex

Open Access takes many forms and journal articles are only one outlet for research results. Here are some of the ways researchers interact with Open Access journal articles:

Green Open Access Icon. Self-archiving, DIY, or Green Open Access: Authors who publish articles in any kind of journal often want to share and post their work for others to read. Authors do this in many ways — through institutional repositories, personal websites, or in online communities. Self-archiving needs to be done with careful consideration of author agreements and copyright and contractual agreements set in place by the journal that originally published the article.


Green Open Access Icon.
Self-archiving, DIY, or Green Open Access: Authors who publish articles in any kind of journal often want to share and post their work for others to read. Authors do this in many ways — through institutional repositories, personal websites, or in online communities. Self-archiving needs to be done with careful consideration of author agreements and copyright and contractual agreements set in place by the journal that originally published the article.
Gold Open Access Icon
Gold Open Access journals: There are peer-reviewed journals that do not charge readers subscription fees. These journals typically charge authors an "open access publication fee," however some OA journals do not charge any fees.
Hybrid open access icon.
Hybrid Open Access journals: A growing number of peer-reviewed journals that charge readers a subscription fee are offering authors the option to make individual articles "Open" through an additional author fee. This helps readers without a subscription access articles the author opted to publish through this path, decreasing overall barriers to access.


Open Access Is More About Access Than It Is About "Quality"

Sham journals, Predatory Publishers, non-peer reviewed journals, and journals with low "Impact" scores exist in both the Closed Access arena and the Open Access arena. Before publishing in any journal, researchers should take time to investigate both the journal and the editorial board. See this EXAMPLE of a questionable Open Access transportation journal


What is Open Access?

What is Open Access?Open Access Logo

"Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions." -- Open Access Overview.

Open Access Myths Debunked
Megan Wagner created the Open Access Myths Debunked infographic below for Open Access Week 2016 here at Cal State Fullerton. A full transcription of the Open Access Myths Debunked Infographic is also available. If you are interested in the sources behind these facts and statistics, there is a Open Access Myths Debunked Infographic bibliography.
Open Access Myths Debunked Infographic

Massoud AlShareef

Dina Hashim

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Nizar Souda

Green Open Access Journal Article Archiving Policy: Myth v. Fact

Mark Bilby and Karen Vasquez created the Green Open Access Policy Infographic below. A full transcription of this Green Open Access Policy Infographic is also available, and it has the same content as the infographic slides linked below.

Good Practices for Faculty OA Policies
For those interested in the nuts and bolts of a Green Open Access policy, Stuart Shieber and Peter Suber of Harvard have assembled a widely endorsed, online guide to good practices for University faculties who want to pass and implement Green Open Access policies.
What are Open Educational Resources?

OER LogoWhat are Open Educational Resources (OERs)?

OERs are resources available at little or no cost that can be used for teaching, learning, or research. Some examples are textbooks, course readings, articles, journals, course packs, quizzes, streaming videos, and virtually any other material that is used for educational purchases. Using digital OERs saves paper. OERs help keep the high cost of education down.


Why Create and Use Open Educational Resources?

OERs are free, ready-to-use content for your classes. Creators are free to Retain rights, Reuse content, Remix content, Revise content, and Redistribute content.

Finding Open Educational Resources

It's important to know the basics of copyright and Creative Commons licenses before you reuse someone else's work!

Major concepts to know:

  • Copyright/Licensed
  • Public Domain
  • Fair Use
  • Creative Commons

Above video by Dr. Kyle Stedman, Rockford University. View at

Types of Open Access

There are many types of open access, perhaps because it is such a young movement that it's still developing standards. That said, there are three basic types:

  • Green – refers to self-archiving generally of the pre or post-print in repositories
  • Gold – refers to articles in fully accessible open access journals
  • Hybrid – some times called Paid Open Access, refers to subscription journals with open access to individual articles usually when a fee is paid to the publisher or journal by the author, the author's organization, or the research funder. Some of the fees are quite expensive, up to $5000. Some universities or libraries have a pool of funding available for hybrid journal publications or sometimes funding is written into grant applications for open access in hybrid journals, though these are not common instances. Some examples of hybrid open access are: iOpenAccess by Taylor Francis, Online Open by Wiley, or Sage Open by Sage. For a full list visit Publishers with Paid Options for Open Access from SHERPA/RoMEO.

Though green open access generally refers to the post-print of an article, there are three basic version types that can be self archived in repositories:

  • Pre-Prints – The author's copy of article before it’s been reviewed by the publisher, or pre-reviewed
  • Post-Prints – The author's copy of article after it’s been reviewed and corrected, but before the publisher has formatted it for publication, or post-reviewed.
  • Publisher’s Version – The version that is formatted and appears in print or online.

If authors have signed a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA), publisher's policy will determine which version of an article can be archived in a repository. Most publishers allow some sort of green open access. Authors can check their CTA for this information. SHERPA/RoMEO is a database of publisher copyright policies and self archiving information that authors can use to check which version they may be allowed to archive. Not all journals are in SHERPA/RoMEO and it isn't always current, so authors may also want to check the publisher's website as well.

SHERPA/RoMEO classifies publishers into colors for easy identification:

  • Green - refers to publishers whose policies allow archiving of pre-print and post-print or publisher's version/PDF
  • Blue - refers to publishers whose policies allow archiving of post-print or publisher's version/PDF
  • Yellow - refers to publishers whose policies allow archiving of pre-print
  • White - refers to publishers whose policies do not formally support archiving any version
Ways to Support
All this talk of Free is great, but nothing is completely free right? In Open Access we mean free to the user, but some of the hidden, or non-monetary, costs of open access contribute to some of the issues related to open access so let’s take a look at them.
Remember Professor A from the Open Access 101, from SPARC video?
Professor A from Open Access 101
Remember also Professors B & C?
Professors B & C from Open Access 101
They all worked for free, right?
Well, not really. Professor A probably used some library resources (books, subscription databases, Inter-Library Loan) for which the library paid, and he may have used some of this time at work to write it, for which the university paid him. Then, if he submits it to a subscription journal instead of an open access one, the library will have to buy the journal to get access to Professor A's work; the work the university already paid to create through library resources and salary.
It’s also true that it didn’t cost Professors A, B, and C money to write and review the article, but they did invest their time. While they don’t expect to get paid cash for their effort, they do expect that by contributing to scholarly communication and expertise in their fields that they might gain promotion and tenure. This is important because promotion and tenure committees sometimes don’t count articles submitted to open access journals and resources as highly as those submitted to prestigious scholarly publishers and journals, even though open access resources can also be peer reviewed high quality research. So frequently scholars are discouraged from submitting their articles to open access journals. One way to promote open access is to advocate for promotion and tenure committees and guidelines to give equal consideration to open access articles when appropriate.
Back to Professor A. Remember that he gives his article to the publisher for free.
Professor A and Publisher from Open Access 101
Well that wasn’t really free either. It’s true that money probably did not change hands, but publishers almost always require authors to assign their copyrights to the publisher. So the cost of publishing for the author is the loss of most, or all, of his or her author’s rights -- the copyrights she or he automatically has upon creating the work. You can support open access by learning about and protecting your author’s rights and copyright.
You can also help support open access by considering giving your work a Creative Commons (CC) license. Some open access publishers are open to CC licenses and some journals are even distributed under creative commons licenses. Creative Commons licenses do not effect your copyrights, they are different things.
You can also help support open access by contributing your work to open access journals or digital repositories.  Remember that open access increases the visibility of your research and you as a scholar. It can also open the door to collaboration. Consider starting a SelectedWorks site to help highlight your research! The added benefit of a SelectedWorks site is that we can easily pull your eligible research into the ScholarWorks @ GSU.
Let's Collaborate from Open Access 101
All images from from Open Access 101 by SPARC.