What is open access?
Open access means free online (public) access to scholarly material. Those who want to access and read the material can do so at no charge. For a quick introduction, watch Open Access Explained (above), an 8 minute video from Nick Shokey and Jonathan Eisen published October 2012 at PhD comics.
What are the benefits of open access?
Open access also helps create an online presence and identity for the author. Having an online presence and identity is critical in the digital era, particularly for graduate students. Prospective employers will search the names of recent graduates and make decisions based on the search results. Faculty should model and impress upon graduate students the importance of creating and managing an online presence and identity.
What is green open access?
Repositories are preferable to websites because they are more stable and committed to long-term preservation, i.e., work deposited in a repository will be migrated to new formats and systems as they evolve over time. Work posted to a website often disappears or becomes inaccessible. Websites are deleted when the faculty member leaves the institution; work becomes inaccessible when the format becomes obsolete.
Carnegie Mellon's open access repository is Research Showcase. The Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) provides a list of repositories worldwide. Lists of Disciplinary Repositories and Data Repositories are also available in the Open Access Directory.
What is gold open access?
Open access journals make all articles available open access. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) provides a list of quality open access journals. Some open access journals require authors or their institution or funding agency to pay an Article Processing Charge for each article published.
Hybrid journals are traditional subscription (restricted access) journals that offer an option to make articles available open access upon payment of an Article Processing Charge (APC). Only those articles whose authors (or their institution or funding agency) paid the APC are available open access.
What is gratis open access?
What is libre open access?
Does open access affect me?
How do I make my work available open access?
What is an embargo period?
Publishers impose embargos to protect their revenue from subscriptions. Public (open) access mandates typically specify a maximum allowable embargo period. See Public Access Mandates.
What is the difference between the pre-print and post-print versions of my work?
The post-print version of a work has been peer-reviewed and revised based on reviewer comments. A post-print may or may not include formatting, layout, pagination, or changes made by copy editors. Most publishers prohibit authors from self-archiving the published version (the publisher's PDF). Public access mandates typically call for the author’s final, peer reviewed manuscript to be made available open access. See Public Access Mandates.
What types of research outputs are affected?
Does open access threaten peer review or the quality of scholarly publications?
Like traditional subscription journals, open access journals range in quality, with some providing more rigorous peer review than others. Faculty and graduate students should look at the editorial board and other relevant information about any journal before submitting their work.
The quality of editing and peer review makes a journal good, not the access method or business model. Open access journals that have been available for some time have impact factors comparable to traditional journals that have been available for the same period of time. See Björk and Solomon (2012), Open access versus subscription journals: a comparison of scientific impact, BMC Medicine, Vol. 10, No. 73. [pdf]
Does open access threaten scholarly journal publishing?
Most journal publishers support open access. They realize open access is here to stay because the benefits to researchers, institutions, and the public cannot be denied. As of May 2013, 69% of the 1,241 publishers with open access policies in the SHERPA RoMEO database allow authors to self‐archive their work immediately in a disciplinary or institutional repository (the green route to open access). The percentage that allows self-archiving after an embargo period (typically twelve months after publication) is much higher. Current statistics are available at the SHERPA RoMEO statistics page. There is no evidence that self‐archived author manuscripts have led libraries to cancel journal subscriptions. Libraries cancel subscriptions because of budget pressures and usage statistics.
Many publishers of traditional subscription journals now also publish open access journals or offer a hybrid, open access option for articles in their traditional journals (the gold route to open access). Hybrid journals are traditional subscription journals that make selected articles available open access upon payment of fee.
Does open access break copyright law?
Many publishers of traditional journals allow authors to deposit a copy of their work in an open access disciplinary or institutional repository. Many impose an embargo, meaning that open access must be delayed (typically) for 6 to 12 months after publication. The SHERPA RoMEO database provides easy access to publisher policies on open access.
Many funding bodies require open access to articles reporting on research they funded. Many allow an embargo or delay of 6 to 12 months after publication. The SHERPA Juliet database provides easy access to funding body policies on open access.
Does open access encourage plagiarism or idea theft?
Ideas are not copyright protected, but they can be protected by delaying open access to your work. If protecting your ideas is important, delay open access (apply an embargo). Make the embargo as short as possible to achieve your goal.
If facilitating use of your work and creating an online presence and identity are more important than protecting your work, then make your work available open access.