Open Access is a publishing approach that allows access to research without having to pay a subscription. This option often applies to all forms of published research output, both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed journals, conference papers, thesis, book chapters and monographs.
Several funding institutions require Open Access publishing for works that are a direct result of their funding. This includes the NIH, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and many others.
Open Access Does Not Mean Free of Copyright Restrictions
Many articles published in this way rely on a Creative Commons license. These licenses allow the general public to access the item for free and place re-use restrictions on it. The licenses range from no restrictions to not allowing the item be used for commercial purposes. For more information about the Creative Commons licenses, click the tab to the left for Licensing and Access.
Think of it as being able to look at photos of your favorite celebrity (or sports team, or national landmark), but not being able to re-use those photos without checking (and complying with!) the copyright guidelines.
|What are the benefits of open access?||• immediate visibility of research data
• can be read by anyone
• quicker transparency in scientific advances
• sharing studies rapidly and widely
• holding traditional publishing cost-accountable
|What are the drawbacks of open access?||Authors often face a steeper APC (Author Processing Charge) as publishers try to make up the lack of subscription costs from subscribers|
|Where can I find open access articles?||• PLOS (Public Library of Science)
• SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)
• DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)
• Traditional publishers (Publisher Copyright Policies/Self-Archiving list)
PubMed Central (PMC) is a good example of a resource with open access articles, but not everything published in PubMed Central is open access. In fact, less than half of the articles in PMC are fully open access.
Think of it as if you are looking for recipes for apple pie. While you can easily access the full text of many recipes online, not all of them are free of use restrictions, especially if you are using the recipe for money-making purposes.
For information on how to search for articles in PMC by a certain CC license, go to this page: