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Open Access

This guide covers what Open Access is, the philosophy behind Open Access, Creative Commons Licences

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 ACCESS" ... pirate websites ... not legal)