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Scholarly Publishing and Research Impact: Mid to Late Career Researcher Edition: Open Access Publishing

This guide to scholarly communications will acquaint researchers with knowledge and tools for better understanding and managing the creation and dissemination of their scholarly research.

What is Open Access (OA)?

"In short, Open Access is the free and unrestricted online access to outputs of scholarly research." Open Access and Digital Scholarship Blog, Imperial College London,

Although Open Access can also apply to books, music, images, and more, open-access journals are particularly prevalent in academia.

OA journals are available online for everyone to read for free, instead of being accessible only to paid subscribers. 

Many OA journals employ scholarly peer-review and rigorous editorial processes, just as their traditional commercial counterparts do. Therefore the quality of the research product is not diminished, but access to that product is more open to students and researchers around the world.

Explanation of publishing models: In general, 

  • Traditional indicates a non-free (pay for access) publishing model.
  • Green indicates a generally non-free publishing model, but which also allow authors to place versions of their articles (pre-review, post-review, or final, depending on journal policies) in open-access repositories.
  • Hybrid indicates a generally non-free publishing model, but which allow authors (or their institutions) to pay a fee to make a specific article freely available--in other words, some articles, but not others, are made freely available based on financial arrangements.  
  • Gold indicates a publishing model of free, immediate, and permanent access. But its usage may vary in terms of whether publishing is free or an author (or their institution) is charged a fee for articles.
  • Platinum is sometimes added to this schema to indicate a publishing model of free, immediate access, in which a fee is never charged for articles.

Usage of these terms may vary, so always read a journal's policies carefully, or consult the Directory of Open Access Journals for clear information about a journal's OA publishing and author fees. 

Benefits of Open Access Research

"Removing price and access barriers to articles allows the broadest possible audience and reach for scholarly works, which could increase the visibility [of] the works and their impact."

Introduction to Open Access, Georgetown University,

"Accelerated discovery. With open access, researchers can read and build on the findings of others without restriction.

"Public enrichment. Much scientific and medical research is paid for with public funds. Open Access allows taxpayers to see the results of their investment.

"Improved education. Open Access means that teachers and their students have access to the latest research findings throughout the world."

Quoted from - "PLOS (Public Library of Science) is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication."


The following infographic from bepress highlights some of the impacts of open access for different stakeholder groups.

(click on the image to view it full-size in a new window)


Impact of Open Access infographic

Open Access Mandates - Am I Required to Share My Article?

Your institution and/or the agency funding your research may have mandates regarding open access (especially if you are funded by a government agency). Read the terms of your grant funding and plan in advance if your publications must be openly available.

The tools below can help you to identify mandates from your institution and/or funding agency.

Directories: Find OA Journals and Book Publishers


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