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Open Access

A guide to open access

Open Access

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

Open Access, as an option for wider dissemination of research, is entirely compatible with and insists on upholding standards of peer review, copyright, quality, prestige and research impact.

open access lock


Open Access Explained!! (c) Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics), Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)

  • Gratis OA is information that is available free of charge, while some copyright and licensing restrictions may still apply.
  • Libre OA is information that is free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restriction.
  • While 'free' implies that the information does not cost anything to access, remember that OA publishing still often involves a cost to the author to publish the work.

Green OA publishing refers to the self-archiving of published or pre-publication works for free public use. Authors provide access to preprints or post-prints (with publisher permission) in an institutional or disciplinary archive such as ThinkTech and

Gold OA publishing refers to works published in an open access journal and accessed via the journal or publisher's website. Examples of Gold OA include PLOS (Public Library of Science) and BioMed Central.

The OASPA has a stated mission to "support and represent the interests of Open Access (OA) journal and book publishers globally in all scientific, technical, and scholarly disciplines."


The code of conduct adopted by the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.

Benefits of Open Access

Benefits For:

The Academic Researcher:

1. increase the visibility of your research findings, your work is easier to disseminate, easier to find and easier to read

2. make it easier to manage your list of publications on your personal website and your organization’s website

3. give you a place where your scholarly works are permanently stored, whether they are a PDF of a journal article, a Microsoft Word document of a technical report, a Microsoft PowerPoint file of a conference poster, a JPEG file of a photograph, an audio file of a musical performance or a video file of a speech

4. enable a simple web address to your piece of work that can be cited in subsequent works or easily refer other interested parties too

5. make possible easy access to materials previously only available in print e.g. theses, dissertations

6. give an indicator of the impact your research is having in your field, help identify who is reading your work (or at least from where they are accessing it) and encourage impact to be more related to the merit of your work and not the name of the journal in which it is finally published

7. offer new opportunities for publishing your works e.g. as part of a virtual journal, for others to comment on your work and provide feedback

8. encourage others to do the same, so you can easily find and read the work of your colleagues and others

9. make it easier to keep abreast of the latest research findings (certainly within the University)

10. for those working in a fast-moving field e.g. computer sciences or electronics, enable quick and dated dissemination or your research findings, which could establish prior discovery

11. have a safe, backed-up and secure place to store your scholarly works

12. have an organized single point of reference for your work, accessible 24/7, readable from any web-enabled device (Windows PC, Apple MAC, PDA, mobile phone), from work, from home, while you are abroad at a conference etc.

13. reduce your workload associated with managing your portfolio of scholarly works (or at least not add to it)

14. improve your understanding of copyright, make you aware of your rights and maximize the return of your efforts

15. meet and manage the requirements of funding bodies with respect to disseminating your research outputs and ensure you can confidently tick this box on new funding applications

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