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 Open Access infographic

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 Open Access infographic

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.


Benefits of open access

There are several benefits to open acess, including increased exposure and compliance with funder policy. The infographic below shows a summary of some such benefits.

Benefits of open access infographic