Answered By: KRS Archive
Last Updated: Feb 06, 2015     Views: 1093

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What is Open Access?

A nice definition comes from Peter Suber: “Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder. “ (Suber, 2004).

How can I participate in Open Access publishing?

There are two main avenues to making your research publications Open Access. 

  1. Open Access repositories and archives: The first is to publish or archive your work in an Open Access repository or archive.  These digital archives do not offer peer review, but make their contents freely available.  They may contain articles that have also been published in a fee-based journal, as well as “grey” literature such as reports and theses.  Many institutions, such as universities, have repositories; there are also a number of subject-specific repositories.

    As an author, you may archive your preprint (the version of a published article prior to peer review/copyediting) without receiving permission from a publisher.   Many traditional publishers also permit authors to archive their work in a repository.  The SHERPA/RoMEO database is a good place to learn about the policies of individual journals or publishers.

  2. Open Access journals: Open Access journals do perform peer review, and make accepted articles freely available.  The Directory of Open Access Journals is a good place to look for Open Access Journals in your discipline.  Open Access journals operate using a number of business models: some are sponsored by societies or institutions, and some charge a processing fee to authors of accepted articles.  There are a number of financial supports for authors seeking to publish in Open Access journals.  Some institutions have agreements with Open Access publishers that allow their authors to waive the processing fee; in addition, many granting agencies now allow processing fees to be included in project budgets.

Do I have to make my research results Open Access?

That depends.  Some funding agencies, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Cancer Society have policies that require researchers they support to make their research results open access.  Some institutions have similar policies. 

Where can I learn more?

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resource Coalition (SPARC) site has a large amount of helpful material.  Start at the resources page.

If you have specific questions about Open Access publishing or archiving, please contact us.  A KRS team member would be happy to help.

Works cited:

Suber, P. (2004).  A very brief introduction to Open Access.  Downloaded October 18, 2013 from:



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