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Research: Open Access

Library support for postgraduate students and researchers

What is Open Access (OA) in Publishing?

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" ... generally the author, institution or funder pays a fee to publishers ("author acceptance fee") to make their paper/output freely available to read, on the publishers website, for anyone to read. Some journals titles are all Gold, while other are hybrid i.e. contains both open and access by subscription only
  • "GREEN OPEN ACCESS" ... generally, the publisher retains copyright, however, the publisher permits the author to upload a specified version of the published paper in a repository as a free to read paper. The version on the publisher's website remains available only to subscribers.
  • "BRONZE OPEN ACCESS" ... articles made free-to-read on the publisher’s website, without an explicit open license. This includes delayed OA and promotional material that the publishers have chosen to make free but not open. Piwowar (2017) estimates that this is the most common type of Open Access most people encounter.
  • ("BLACK OPEN ACCES" ... pirate websites ... not legal)


Impact of Access Publications

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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The Open Access Citation Advantage

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 provides 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

Creative Commons Licences

A Creative Commons licence promotes a common standard of licensing and removes any ambiguity of how you would like your information shared.

For more information on licences, go to
Attribution CC BY  

This licence 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 licences offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA

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

Attribution-NoDerivatives CC BY-ND

This licence 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 licence 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 licence 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-NoDerivatives CC BY-NC-ND

This licence is the most restrictive of the six licences, 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.


Sharing Research Data

Academic open access websites