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Open Access: Home

A guide to open access; understanding what it is, why it's important, and what you can do.

Open Access at a Glance

Understanding Open Access

The open access movement is transforming the traditional model of scholarly publishing and challenging established norms for the access, sharing, and re-purposing of knowledge.  Three central and influential international documents define the issues surrounding open access: Budapest InitiativeBethesda Statement, and Berlin Declaration.  The open access publisher PLOS succinctly identifies the dual components of open access as "unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse."  Open access eliminates barriers, such as price and copyright restrictions; impediments that hinder access to scholarship and the knowledge it confers.  Open access guarantees research is available online at no cost and permits the transformation of ideas to serve the improvement of society.  For a more in-depth exploration of what open access is and isn't, consult the following resources:

Open Access Explained!

The video by Jorge Cham (PhD Comics) featuring Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen demystifies the world of open access.

Getting Involved

Advocates of open access frequently speak of it as a "movement."  In 2016 SPARC advanced the theme for International Open Access Week as "Open in Action," encouraging all stakeholders to implement effective measures to advance open access and encourage others to do likewise.  The movement to transform scholarly publishing to an open access model is supported by government officials, grassroots advocates, non-profit organizations, publishers, and universities.  Most importantly, the open access movement relies on the power of the individual to evoke change.  SPARC Europe identifies what makes a champion of open access.  By choosing to publish in open access journals and encouraging others to do likewise, you establish an environment that allows open access to be the new standard.  Here are some opportunities to get involved:

ASU Supports:

Exploring Open Access

Importance of Open Access

The importance of open access is rooted in the ethical principle of information being unchained, supporting the belief that knowledge is an inalienable human right guaranteed to all. John Willinsky identified that open access is founded on the moral imperative that each person should be guaranteed an opportunity to "...exercise [their] right to know what is known." Open access seeks to eliminate or reduce the price and copyright barriers that deny access to information and the knowledge it confers. In 2013, a White House memorandum to federal agencies noted scientific research "catalyzes innovative breakthroughs that drive our economy"  and lauded the value of open access on research to spur "understanding and exploiting discovery." The value of open access extends to developing countries and affords researchers access to content that would otherwise be hidden behind pay walls. Here are some resources that provide a more in-depth exploration of the importance and value of open 

The benefits of open access (click on image to expand).

Two Models of Open Access Publishing

Open Access Publishing (Gold): The characteristics of open access publishing are akin to traditional publishing, by which an author submits a work to be peer reviewed and is published at no cost for others to read.  Costs to fund the publication process may be assessed to the author through article processing charges, although many publishers charge no fee.

Open Access Self-Archiving (Green): Green open access involves the self-archiving of research published through traditional journals.  A variety of platforms are available for researchers to self-archive their work, including disciplinary repositories (e.g. ArXiv or PubMed Central) and institutional repositories (e.g. ASU Digital Repository) hosted by universities and organizations.

Why the Colors? - Understanding Gold and Green Open Access

A brief video from the University of Minnesota Libraries explaining gold and green open access, including a review of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Glossary of Terms

Article Processing Charge: A fee sometimes used for funding the publication of scholarly articles in an open access journal. The fee is often covered by a funding agency or the researcher's institution. 

Author Rights: The rights retained by the author when entering a contractual agreement with the publisher. Open access encourages authors to negotiate with publishers to retain the rights to control the re-use and distribution of the work.   

Creative Commons: A non-profit organization providing customized licenses which permit the author to retain selective rights and waive others for the re-use and re-mix of research.  

Embargo: A publication embargo is the duration between the work's publication and the time it is freely available. Designed to protect the revenue of the publisher, an embargo limits access to those who pay the access cost.

Gold Open Access: Research published in a journal that is immediately and openly available when published. An article processing charge assessed to the author after acceptance is a common business model for open access journal publishing.

Green Open Access: Archiving a version of a published work in an institutional or disciplinary repository, often with a link to the published work. The deposit in a repository permits the open access to the published work.

Hybrid Open Access: Publishers make an individual article freely available after payment of an article processing charge, while still selling access through subscriptions. Proponents of open access regard the hybrid model of publishing as double-dipping; charging twice for the same work.

Mining - Data/Text: The process of deriving information from machine-read material, such as using large quantities of data and text to extract information and recombining it to identify patterns.

Open Education: A transformative movement rooted in the principle of supporting high-quality education for all. Open Education Resources are openly licensed, online material designed for teaching and learning.

Open ScienceOpen Science is the practice of scholarship in such a way that others can collaborate and contribute, where research data, lab notes, and other research processes are freely available, under terms that enable reuse, redistribution, and reproduction of the research and its underlying data and methods.

Postprint: The accepted article after incorporating the edits from the peer review process. The article does not incorporate the pagination and type-setting of the publisher's print. Also known as final accepted manuscript or author accepted manuscript (AAM).

Preprint: The first draft of an article before peer review and the accompanying edits. Also known as the submitted version.

Publisher's Print: The final published article in a publisher generated PDF file.

Repository - Institutional/Discipline: Commonly associated with green open access and the self-archiving of work. Institutional repositories are managed by a university or organization to curate the scholarly output of the institution's researchers. Discipline repositories, such as arXiv and PubMed Central, collect scholarship on specific subjects regardless of the researcher's institutional affiliation.

Scholarly Communication Librarian

Anali Perry's picture
Anali Perry
Subjects: Copyright, Scholarly Communication, Digital Repositories, Scholarly Publishing, Impact & Metrics, Open Access and Open Education.
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