What is Open Access?

Information on open access and the differences between Green and Gold open access.

A research output that is Open Access (OA) is one that anyone anywhere can access without having to pay – either a one-off fee per paper or as part of a subscription service.

OA can apply to any type of research output, but is most often used when talking about journal and conference papers.

There are two main kinds of OA: Green and Gold.

Green Open Access

Green OA is also known as self-archiving and is when the author makes a version of the paper available for free either via a personal website, institutional website, institutional repository or a subject-specific repository.  Different publishers have different policies about where papers can be archived, which version can be used and when a paper can be made available.

Publishers do not normally allow the final published version of a paper to be archived.  The version allowed is normally the author's final version.  This is the post-review version of the paper, but may be before final editing and does not normally have publisher's headers and footers.

Within Informatics, and within the University in general, there is a strong institutional preference for Green Open Access.

Gold Open Access

Gold OA typically involves the authors paying the publishers a fee.  The publisher then allows free access to the paper on their website.  This can be paid for by a single Article Processing Charge (APC) paid by the author, institution, or funder or as part of an arrangement between an institution and a publisher.

Open Access journals are a subset of Gold OA where all papers are made freely available.  Models vary, with some journals being entirely free to authors, and some charging APCs for all papers.