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Information Research Strategies: Open access

Open Access

Open access to research data, journal articles, and books, including textbooks is increasingly being acknowledged and supported.  There is a great deal of activity in this arena and it is constantly evolving.  

In this module, you will learn about:

  • Open access publishing, the myths and the continually evolving landscape.
  • Options for authors for open access publishing.
  • Open education resources and support at the UA


Open Access Publishing

Open access (OA) publishing is a movement that is gaining momentum in the scholarly communication arena.  The goal of OA is to achieve the long-time desire of researchers and scholars for the widest possible readership for their works.

Watch: Open Access Explained


U.S. Federal Initiatives:   Public Access to Federally Funded Research

On February 22, 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released guidelines for " Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research." It called on all governmental agencies with R&D funds over $100M to develop plans for making the published research freely available to the public within one year of publication and directed federally funded researchers to develop management plans for their digital research data.

As of 2015, several governmental agencies that provide considerable federal research funding have developed public access policies, including the NSF, NIH, DOD, DOE and the USDA.   Cornell has prepared a page about the various Federal agency policies.


Business Models - Who Pays?

The reality is that publishing (whether print or online) costs money.Professional organizations and publishers that do not participate in OA options usually have concerns on how to maintain a revenue stream.  

Alternative business models for providing open access have been implemented by private, non-profit OA publishers (such as Public Library of Science (PLOS)), commercial OA publishers (HindawiBioMed Central), subsidized OA journals such as eLife, and hybrid subscription/OA journals.  For more information about  OA business models, see this site:   OA Journal Business Models, hosted at the Simmons College, Graduate School of Information and Library Science.


Open Access Issues - The Myths

The following webpage from the University of North Carolina, Health Sciences Library may answer some of the questions you hear about Open Access.

Busting OA Myths


Advocating for Open Access to Knowledge 

In Spring 2015, the UA Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) signed on to the Student Statement on the Right to Research.*

This statement argues that unless scholarship is made freely available online, it stifles learning and research.   It calls upon universities, governmental funders and researchers to support open access. The Right to Research Coalition is supported by SPARC.

*UA GPSC Adopts Pledge to Support Open Access.   (2015, May 20). UA@Work. Retrieved Sept 1, 2015, from


Author Rights: Your Options for Open Access

When your article is accepted by an editor of a scholarly journal, you are usually asked to sign a copyright agreement giving certain rights to the publisher.   Depending on the publisher and their policies on author re-use, the copyright agreement may be more or less restrictive in regards to your rights as an author. Admittedly, it can be hard to resist just signing the agreement form, especially for graduate students and junior faculty who are trying to establish their position in the "publish or perish" world of academic tenure. Nevertheless, there are options for authors.

Read this page for more information about author's rights:
Using the SPARC Author Addendum to secure your rights as the author of a journal article


Creative Commons

Another important initiative for free open access is the Creative Commons organization that encourages and support free re-use of creative works for non-commercial purposes.


Open Access Policies of Journal Publishers

The SHERPA/RoMEO database provides copyright policies of journals and journal publishers regarding the pre- and post-print archiving of published articles.  RoMEO is a service from SHERPA, a UK coalition of research universities whose purpose is to promote the development and use of open access institutional repositories.