Open access

A publication is defined as ‘open access’ when there are no financial, legal, or technical barriers to accessing it – that is to say when anyone can read, download, copy, distribute, print, search for and search within the information, or use it in education or in any other way within the legal agreements. Open access is a publishing model for scholarly communication that makes research information available to readers at no cost. One of the most important advantages of open access is that it increases the visibility and reuse of academic research results. 

Most publishers own the rights to the articles in their journals–not the authors. Anyone who wants to read the articles pays a fee to access them. Institutions and libraries help provide access to paywalled research through costly negotiations. Even then, no part of the article can be reused by researchers, students, or taxpayers without permission from the publisher, often at the cost of an additional fee.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and PubMed Central (PMC) have mechanisms to implement quality control and increase the visibility of trustworthy OA content. Both PMC and DOAJ check editorial policies and technical specifications of applying journals to ensure the users are supplied with quality content. Furthermore, some journals on DOAJ are awarded the DOAJ seal, which is an affirmation from the DOAJ that these journals meet the best technical standards of publishing.

Beyond the sites already mentioned above, Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is a great resource, and you can find practical instructions for implementing open access in the Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook (OASIS). For the life sciences, F1000Research is an excellent choice and is quite innovative. For a student-focused look at open access, Right to Research is a good starting point.

Advantages of open access publication

Broader Visibility

Open Access means open to anyone, anywhere to read, share, and reuse. That means connecting with interdisciplinary researchers in other fields as well as peers in your community.

Accelerated Discovery

With Open Access, your work is immediately available and globally discoverable. When researchers can read and build on the findings of others without restriction, science advances faster.

Public Enrichment

Open Access allows everyone to benefit from your advancements by providing teachers, students, funders, and policymakers equal access to the latest research findings throughout the world