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Open Access Publishing

This guide aims to provide an overview of the open access model for researchers and students interested in learning more.

What does Open Access mean?

Open Access (OA) publications consists of journal articles and books that are online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions related to reuse. Online journals and books that are open access have no subscription cost or pay-per-use fees.  Some benefits to OA include

  • provides barrier free access to information
  • allows for transparency of funding
  • informs the public of researchers' work
  • addresses the gap in access to information
  • reduces expenses for journals
  • increases visibility of research
  • promotes democracy by sharing 

Summarized from UNESCO Open Access Publications


  • More people will have access to research when barriers to access are reduced
  • Increased exposure to work results in more immediate impact on practitioners and direct application in the field
  • OA works have higher citation rates compared to non-OA works
  • More exposure to work helps encourage research collaborations 
  • Many grants already require funding recipients to publish open access so that research can be publicly available
  • OA publishing empowers those without academic affiliations access to research

Open Access Explained by Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) on YouTube.

Further Reading

The open access movement aims to transform the traditional scholarly publication model to one that is more equitable and beneficial to society. Existing models have created an ecosystem where journal publishers charge exorbitant subscription fees, typically paid by libraries, for access to research which may often be publicly funded. This not only creates a funding crisis for libraries, but it delays access to research for the public and only allows access to the privileged few who can afford to pay article charges. The open access model aims to eliminate barriers to research access by providing a number of ways for researchers to share their work more openly. This is an evolving model that has varying degrees of adoption across different fields.

Influential documents on the open access movement:

Further resources and readings on the advantages of open access publishing

  • The Open Access Citation Advantage Service (OACA) - current research tracking the impact of open access publishing on citations
  • Why Open Access Matters - discusses why OA matters to society and the wider research ecosystem (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)).
  • Right to Research Coalition - international alliance of more than 90 undergraduate and graduate student organizations in over 100 countries around the world, that work to promote openness in research through advocacy and education