Concept of Open Access

Diversity of Open Access

Open Access (OA) provides a way to promote broader access to academic research outputs by scholars, students, professionals and the general public via the Internet.

Open Access is the immediate, free of charge, online access to research articles. Users are able to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search for and link to the full text of open access articles. Open access research articles can be made available via archives, repositories and open access journals.

Open access can be achieved through various means, and the different types of OA include:

Green Open Access

The author archives a full-text version of their article as accepted for publication in a scholarly journal. The copy of the article is deposited in an institutional or subject/discipline based repository and is freely available online.

Gold Open Access

The author publishes in an open access journal and the publisher’s website provides free immediate online access to the research article. In this model the author may, or may not, be required to pay a fee. For example, the author can pay the publisher of a scholarly journal an article processing fee where the publisher will then provide free online access to the full-text content of the journal. Variations of this business model include charges paid by an institution or a funding body, as opposed to the author. PLoS is an example of this model.

Another type of Gold Open Access is when the content of a journal is made freely available online only after a specified period of time.

Hybrid Open Access

The author pays an up-front fee to publish their article on the publisher’s website. Hybrid open access usually refers to immediate open access of individual papers, in subscription-based journals, where the author or the author’s institution has paid a fee to have their article made freely available online.

In this model, institutions are also paying to subscribe to the journal. This business model is often viewed as ‘double-dipping’.

Open Access Initiatives

The Open Access idea has been around since the early 1960s. But it was in the 1990s, when the World Wide Web became widely available and online publishing became the norm, that Open Access became more prominent.

Advocates, in associations and societies, created movements to promote Open Access with the conviction that research publications should be accessible to all and everyone who needs to know about them.

On December 1-2, 2001, the Open Society Institute (OSI) called for a meeting of leading proponents of Open Access in Budapest. The goal was to see how far current initiatives could assist one another and how OSI could use its resources to help the cause. That meeting kicked off the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the first popular initiative to make the Open Access idea concrete.

In February 2003, the Budapest Open Access Initiative launched a worldwide campaign for open access (OA) to all new peer-reviewed research. It didn’t invent the idea of OA. On the contrary, it deliberately drew together existing projects to explore how they might “work together to achieve broader, deeper, and faster success.” But the BOAI was the first initiative to use the term “open access” for this purpose, the first to articulate a public definition, the first to propose complementary strategies for realizing OA, the first to generalize the call for OA to all disciplines and countries, and the first to be accompanied by significant funding.

In October 2003, Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, one of the milestones of the open access movement, was promulgated.

In 2006, The Federal Research Public Access Act, a proposal to require open public access to researches funded by US federal government agencies, was introduced in US Congress.

In 2007, MIT Open Course Ware, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology put all of the educational materials from their undergraduate and graduate level courses online.

In 2013, John Holdren, Barack Obama's director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memorandum directing United States' Federal Agencies with more than $100M in annual R&D expenditures to develop plans within six months to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication

Now, there are hundreds of institutional initiatives to make all scholarly publications accessible to everyone worldwide.

Copyright is the exclusive legal rights granted to an author, publisher, or distributor to publish, re-produce, sell, or distribute copies of a work within certain limitations. In Open Access, there is a common misconception that open access means anyone can do anything with a work, which is not the case.

In open Access publishing authors have three choices with regard to copyright:

Retain the copyright

Only the author has the right to publish, re-produce, sell, or distribute copies of his work

Share the copyright

Both the author and the publisher can publish, re-produce, sell, or distribute copies of the work (they have the equal rights).

Transfer the copyright

The author empower the publisher to act on his behalf. Only the publisher can publish, re-produce, sell, or distribute copies of his work and ensure the original work is correctly attributed.

Types of Creative Commons License

Attribution (CC BY)

This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)

This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Reasons to Consider OA

Open Access:

  • Allows fast spread of knowledge and rapid transmission of ideas;
  • Removes the price barriers that prevent researchers from getting access to the research they need;
  • Eliminates inequalities in access to knowledge;
  • Promotes free access, open availability and searchability of scholarly research;
  • Increase the citation advantage of scholarly articles due to a higher visibility;
  • Promotes cooperation and interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization in United States devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization releases copyright-licenses known as Creative Commons licenses free of charge to the public to promote Open Access.

Debunking OA Myths

OA does not by-pass peer-review

OA focuses on providing access to peer reviewed journal articlesOA journals utilise the same peer-review standards and procedures that subscription journals use.

OA does not increase plagiarism

OA increases the chance that plagiarism is recognised and exposed via more freely accessible materialThere are OA journals which have a high impact factor.

OA archiving does not undermine journal viability

There is no evidence that OA archiving causes journal cancellationsOA institutional repositories are not a replacement for peer-reviewed journals.

Open Access Movements

Open Access Week

Open Access Week is a global event that to support Open Access initiatives.


SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system. Developed by the Association of Research Libraries, SPARC has become a catalyst for change. Its pragmatic focus is to stimulate the emergence of new scholarly communication models that expand the dissemination of scholarly research and reduce financial pressures on libraries.