Skip to main content

Open Access: What is Open Access

Open Access Is...

“Open access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” –Peter Suber

*Open Access is compatible with copyright and peer-review

*Open Access removes price barriers, but there is often still a cost to producing OA literature

*The main concern within Open Access is finding a better way to pay the bills rather than by charging readers and creating access barriers

Types of Open Access

Open Access is often described by how it is delivered:

  • Gold:
    • Open access is  provided by journals
    • Authors submit articles to OA journals as they would to conventional journals
    • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) contains many examples of gold OA journals
    • As of March 2013, there were 8,817 journals in the DOAJ
  • Green:
    • Open access is provided by repositories
    • Authors deposit their manuscripts in an OA repository
    • Repository examples include:
      • OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories): Lists over 2,200 repostitories and allows searching of repository contents
      • ROAR (Registry of Open Access Repositories): Provides information about the growth and status of repositories around the world
      • SUNY DSpace: Repository that provides access to the publication output of institutions within SUNY
    • 9,563 repositories listed in OpenDOAR, ROAR, and openarchive.edu as of February 2013

The OA degree of openness can be described in one of these two ways:

  • Gratis:
    • OA in which only price barriers are removed
    • This means that the material is free of charge, but not free of copyright and licensing restrictions
  • Libre:
    • OA in which price barriers are removed, and at least some permission barriers are removed
    • This means that the material is free of charge and permits uses beyond fair use
    • Journals are more likely to provide libre OA than repositories