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Open Access shopfront

Photo by Gideon Burton (9 January 2009) via Flickr. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Open Society (2015) describes ‘Open Access (OA)’ as a new publication and distribution model that takes scholarly research, predominantly funded by taxpayers, out of expensive ‘paywalled’, corporate owned print journals and places the research in freely accessible online journals and repositories. Open Access content is digital, available online, free of charge and free of most copyright and embargo restrictions.

There are two types of open access, Gold OA and Green OA. Gold OA is research published at the publisher level in a journal in which an author could incur an article processing charge, or in a hybrid journal which imposes a charge to make a particular article available. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists over 10,000 high quality peer-reviewed, journals.

Green OA is research made freely available by placing it in an accessible online repository, which is simply an online collection or database of digital content, often hosted by an institution or collated as a subject repository. The Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) is an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories.

One of the factors that led to the OA movement was an escalation in the costs of journal subscriptions, with some costs rising by 300% above inflation since 1986 (The Open Library of Humanities, 2015). Another reason is the realisation that restricting access to taxpayer funded research by putting it behind paywalls is not only unfair, it hinders further scholarly and scientific advancement. Finally, the world wide web has provided the tools to make OA possible.

Open Access encourages international, inter-institutional, interdisciplinary and even serendipitous consultation to occur as a direct result of sharing research in a freely accessible online environment. Many research grants now stipulate that research outcomes must be made available through OA, for example the Australian Research Council (ARC) and Wellcome Trust Open Access Policies.

Everything is better explained when it is explained in cartoon form. Check out this Open Access Explained video by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen (2012) on YouTube.

The following reading list will give you further information on Open Access and the Open Access Movement.

Further reading

Duede, E. (2015). Wikipedia is significantly amplifying the impact of open access publications. The London School of Economics and Political Science: the Impact Blog.

Kingsley, D. (2015). Openness, integrity & supporting researchers. University of Cambridge: Unlocking Research blog.

Open Library of Humanities. (2015). Open Access and academic publishing. Open Library of Humanities website.

Open Library of Humanities. (2015). University of Sydney becomes first OLH LPS member in Southern Hemisphere. Open Library of Humanities website.

Prosser, D. (2015). Fulfilling their potential: is it time for institutional repositories to take centre stage? Repository Fringe 2015 Liveblog: day one.

Smith, A. (2015). It’s time for open access to leave the fringe. University of Cambridge: unlocking research blog.

Shockey, N. & Eisen, J. (2012, October 25). Open Access explained YouTube [Video/cartoon].

Suber, P. (2012). Opening access to research. Berfrois website.

Guidelines for policy and policy development

Australian Research Council. (2015). Open access policy

Open Society Foundations. (2002). Budapest open access initiative

UNESCO. (2012). Policy guidelines for the development and promotion of open access

University of Sydney. (2009). Policy statement on open access to University research

University of Sydney Library. (2014). Sydney eScholoarship Repository policy and guidelines

Wellcome Trust. Open access policy

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