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Research: Open Access

Library support for postgraduate students and researchers

What is Open Access (OA)?

Open Access (OA) refers to online research outputs that are freely available on the internet for all to read. The level of "openness" is generally more obvious if the author has applied a Creative Commons license to their online material.

Journal publishers may offer several models of Open Access:

  • "Gold open access" whereby the author (or their institution or funder) pays a fee to publishers ("author acceptance fee") to make their work freely available on open access to the public on the publishers website
  • "Green open access" whereby authors deposit their peer-reviewed manuscripts (publishers sometimes stipulate OA release of their initial submission only) in publicly accessible repositories e.g. ECU's Research Online
  • Mixed model of Open Access whereby a subscription journal include includes both subscription and Open Access articles
  • Free Open Access
  • Other examples of  open access:
    • author pays upfront for open access (author acceptance fee)
    • author publishes the traditional way but opts to make their articles available by "green open access" either on their personal website or institutional repository (conditions specified by the journal)
    • author publishes the traditional way but the publisher provides no option for "green open access"
    • the whole journal is available on open access but the journal retains copyright of articles
    • the whole journal is available on open access but the author retains copyright of their article
    • articles are available on open access but are covered by copyright
    • articles are available on open access but are covered by a Creative Commons license

Open Access Stories of Impact

Benefits of Open Access (Australasian Open Access Strategy Group)


How did the Human Genome Project make science more accessible? The Human Genome Project was a pioneer for encouraging open access to scientific research. In 1996, those involved agreed that all new information produced should be made freely available to all within 24 hours.

Make all publicly funded research open access: Productivity Commission report, The Australian, Dec The Productivity Commission has urged governments to ensure open access to all publicly funded research, in a massive report into Australia’s intellectual property arrangements.

Open Access: 100 Stories of Impact (blog)

(Video below)

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Academic open access websites

Where is the Open Access information of a journal located?

Information on a journal's policy on open access may sometimes be difficult to find.

  • a search of the journal's pages for "green open access"
  • a search of the journal's Author Information pack
  • search Sherpa/Romeo, a website which summarises permissions - it provides link to the pertinent information in the journal's website

If in doubt of what the journal's open access policy actually is, contact the journal's editor.

Open Access Policies

The Global Open Policy Report (PDF) by the Open Policy Network,  provides a systematic overview of open policy development. The report gives an overview of open policies in 38 countries, across four sectors: education, science, data and heritage. The report includes an Open Policy Index and regional impact and local case studies


How do I decide which CC License to use?