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Open Access: What is Open Access?

Getting started

Have you heard about open access? How is it defined, and what does it mean? What are some of the main issues and questions involved in this global movement?

Let's start with an introduction to open access through the video and resources below.

Open Access Explained! (video)

What is open access? Nick Shockey (SPARC - Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and Jonathan Eisen (UC Davis) take us through the world of open access publishing and explain just what it's all about. (from PhD Comics)

Understanding Open Access

This guidebook by the Authors Alliance provides an accessible, comprehensive overview of OA.

Green and Gold

open access logo

There are two different types of open access: Green and Gold. So what's the difference?

Green open access refers to authors self-archiving their work in an open access archive or repository (such as Digital USD, the University of San Diego's institutional repository) so that anyone can freely access it. If the work has been previously published, there may be copyright restrictions on the version that may be archived (e.g., pre-print, post-print, or publisher's version) and/or the time period between original publication and when it can be made open access (embargo).

Gold open access refers to work that is published in an open access venue (typically an open access journal). Some publishers require authors to pay article processing charges (APCs) in order to make their work openly accessible.


Definitions from the experts

Peter Suber's book on open access

Open Access by Peter Suber
You can freely download (it's open access!) this publication for a solid overview of open access literature, which Suber defines as "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions." (See also

SPARC: Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition

"Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results—to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives." USD is a proud member of SPARC.

Budapest Open Access Initiative logo

Budapest Open Access Initiative
The BOAI first defined open access in 2002: "By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited." The BOAI includes two primary strategy recommendations for achieving OA: self-archiving by authors (in OA repositories) and supporting OA journals.

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