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What is Open Access?

Open Access ensures that scientific articles are available free of charge and other barriers. This ensures that fellow researchers as well as the public are able to access scientific ideas and results.

See also

  • open-access.net is a treasure trove of information regarding open access, compiled by several German university libraries. We link extensively to their resources below.
  • The article Ten Hot Topics around Scholarly Publishing tackles common concerns and questions around open access from the perspective of a researcher.

Paths to Open Access

There are two ways or strategies to ensure the public availablility of publications:

  • Gold Open Access denotes that the published version of an article or book is immediately made openly accessible as part of the publication process.
  • For Green Open Access, scientific texts are available freely outside of the publication outlets' platform by the author. This is also known as self-archiving or self-publishing.

Gold Open Access

There are several business models for providing Gold OA:

  • Publishers can levy one-time Article Processing Charges (APCs) for providing open access to articles.
  • Some journals provide No-fee Open Access which is free for authors (sometimes also known as diamond OA), largely through institutional funding of journals.

Hybrid models: Per-article OA

The gold approach assumes that Open Access is the default for an entire journal rather than an exception on a per-article basis. However, some commercial publishers provide open access to individual articles, collecting both APCs and subscription revenue.

This practice of charging twice is known as double-dipping, and while it meets the above definitions in principle, it is controversial because it costs institutions doubly.


Green Open Access

For Green OA approaches, the first consideration is whether, when, and in which format, public archival can take place. The main options are:

  • A postprint, which is identical in content, but not in formatting, to the published version, which is typeset by the publisher.
  • Immediate publishing or archival following an embargo period.

The second question is where to archive papers. Again, there are several possibilities:

  • Domain- or field-specific repositories that gather paper for a certain field.
  • Institutional repositories that collect material for all scientists at a certain institution.
  • A common, though discouraged, practice is to archive papers on personal homepages. The difficulty with this approach is that