Achieving Open Access

There are a number of different ways you can make your work open access. This includes depositing a version of your work in a repository or using an open access publisher. The model chosen can affect how open the work is.


Degree of openness

The Budapest Open Access Initiative defined open access to scholarly literature as the:

… free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. BOAI, 2002

This definition goes beyond simply making works free to read by granting reuse rights to users and specifying that works be technologically open. Not all open access models allow this degree of openness. The term gratis open access refers to the removal of price barriers, with works made available online free of charge. Whereas the term libre open access refers to removal of price barriers and the removal of at least some permission barriers, with works made available online free of charge and users allowed to copy, redistribute, and possibly adapt the work. 

Permission rights associated with libre open access are typically granted through a Creative Commons licence. The licence dictates how a work can be used and there are multiple Creative Commons licences which range in openness. If you are considering making your work open access it can be useful to consider how open you want it to be and what model will allow you to achieve this.

  • Green open access

    Green open access refers to making a publication freely available online by self-archiving a version of the work in a repository or website.

    Advantages of green open access include:

    • You retain the freedom to publish in a venue of your choice.
    • Many publisher contracts already allow works to be self-archived.
    • There are no costs involved for the author.

    The disadvantage to this model is that as authors traditionally sign away all their rights to the publisher it depends on the terms of the publication agreement and/or the publishers policies if works can be made available. While most publishers now include provisions for green open access they generally include restrictions on:

    • When they can be made available, e.g. a time delay after publication of 12 months.
    • What version can be made available, e.g. the pre-print or post-print but not the published version. 
    • Which venue they can be made available on, e.g. an institutional repository but not a commercial scholarly network.
    • What terms they are made available, e.g. reuse rights may not be granted or a specific Creative Commons licence might be mandated.

    If the publication agreement does not allow the work to be made available on green open access it is up to the author to negotiate these rights with the publisher.

    For more information on publication agreements, publisher policies, and selecting a publisher, visit the Open Access Publishing page.

    For more information on where to make you work available on green open access, visit the Open Access Repositories page.

  • Gold open access

    Gold open access refers to the free and immediate availability of the final published version of the work on the publisher’s site. True gold open access publications make all of their content freely and immediately available as opposed to hybrid open access.

    Advantages of gold open access include:

    • No embargo period, work is made available as soon as it is published.
    • Version of record, the final published version is made available.
    • Reuse rights, typically works are made available under a Creative Commons licence.

    The main disadvantage to the gold open access model is that in exchange for authors retaining their rights to the work the publisher may impose a fee on the author often referred to as an article processing charge (APC). While it is uncommon for APCs to be paid directly by authors unless they can be covered by a grant or other funding source these fees may be prohibitive.

    It is important to note that not all gold open access publications charge an APC. There are a variety of business models by which gold open access publications can operate and a large number either do not charge an APC or the fee is nominal, this varies by discipline.

    For more information on selecting a gold open access publication, visit the Open Access Publishing page.

  • Hybrid open access

    Hybrid open access refers to publications where some of the content is made available on open access while other content remains behind a paywall and is only available via subscription or individual purchase. Authors are given the option of making their work open access by paying an APC. Given the expense of APCs the majority of content in hybrid publications remains behind a paywall.

    While the advantages of making works open access in hybrid publications are the same as for gold open access there are criticisms with this business model. In particular hybrid open access allows publishers to double dip by charging authors to publish their works on open access while they continue to charge users and libraries for subscription to the content.