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What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) means that items of scholarly work are made available online, in a digital format, at no charge to the reader and with limited restrictions on re-use.

The OA movement is a worldwide effort to make scholarly work available online to everyone regardless of their ability to pay for access.

There are two main routes to Open Access:

  • Green OA means publishing in any journal and then self-archiving a version of the article (subject to copyright transfer agreement) in an institutional or subject repository. SHERPA/RoMEO provides details of journals that support Green Open Access and any embargo periods. After a possible embargo, your article will be available online, in a digital format, for free.
  • Gold OA means publishing in an Open Access journal that provides immediate OA to all of its articles on the publisher's website. The business model of such journals is often based on charging an Article Processing Charge (APC) to authors/institutions/funders. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists Gold Open Access only journals.

Many journals now operate a hybrid model where only some of the articles are freely available to read but a subscription is still required to read the remainder.

Hybrid journals will offer the choice of paying an APC in order to provide immediate OA from the publisher's website (Gold OA). Otherwise you can follow the Green route by publishing in the subscription part of the journal - and making your work Open Access through the Repository.

Open Access Explained:

By Jorge Cham, based on interviews with Jonathan Eisen and Nick Shockey (Open Access Explained! (WebCite)) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Open Access FAQs

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OA and research funders

Many funding bodies now insist that scholarly work arising from their funding be made Open Access (OA). Funder policy information is available from the SHERPA/JULIET website. 

UK and EU research funders that currently have OA requirements include:

For the next Research Excellence Framework (REF) authors’ final, peer-reviewed manuscripts must be made Open Access by being deposited in an institutional repository on acceptance for publication. For more information, please see our Research Excellence Framework page


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