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Open Access

What is Open Access?

Open Access is the immediate, free availability of scholarly research, with rights to fully use these works in the digital environment. For an info graphic describing different levels of open access, view this one from Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).
There are generally two levels of Open Access: Green and Gold.


Content (literature, data, etc.) is stored in university, laboratory, or organizational archives (aka institutional repository or IR) or digital repositories. Usually submitted directly by the author – “self archived” – and the author retains the right to make their material freely available. Material may be peer-reviewed or not.


Content is very often peer-reviewed and published in journals. The journal publishers make the content freely available to the public. Expenses for peer-review, preparation, server space, and upkeep are covered through many ways, including institutional subsidies, processing fees paid by the authors, or the organization that sponsored the work. About 5% of Open Access material is published in “gold” journals. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), or have some examples of Open Access journals.

Why is Open Access important?

  1. Open access gives authors the opportunity to share their findings with a much larger audience, thus propelling the field of research
  2. Many research projects are funded through federal grants. That money comes from taxpayers. Previously, most scholarly works were published in journals charging expensive subscription fees. Open Access allows taxpayers to read about the projects their money is funding without having to subscribe to pricey journals.
  3. Open Access breaks down the walls between pricey journals and less well-funded researchers so they can have access to research as much as well-funded researchers.
  4. Prices for non- Open Access journals have risen 4 times faster than inflation. Open Access reduces the expenses paid for access to subscription-based journals (check here for stats from The Association of Research Libraries).

Latest News on Open Access and Scholarly Communications

Academic Research Blog
Scholarly Communications @Duke University
The Scholarly Kitchen

Beware of Predatory Publishers!

Prof. Jeffrey Beall, Auraria Library, University of Colorado Denver, described Predatory Publishing in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education:
“Predatory open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit. That is to say, they operate as scholarly vanity presses and publish articles in exchange for the author fee. They are characterized by various level of deception and lack of transparency in their operations. For example, some publishers may misrepresent their location, stating New York instead of Nigeria, or they may claim a stringent peer-review where none really exists.”
For a list of predatory publishers and more information, visit Prof. Beall’s website.