VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Open Access

What Is Open Access?

Open access to information is the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research that is free from most copyright and licensing restrictions. To ensure the widest possible access to scholarship and research, scholars can contribute to open access in several ways:

  • Open Access Publishing: Scholarly content made available online and free of charge to anyone immediately upon publication.

  • Open Repositories: Digital collections of freely available scholarly content on a particular subject (subject repositories) or the collected works of an academic institution (institutional repositories).

  • Open Data: Data that is freely available for use, reuse, and redistribution. 

Why Open Access?

Open access to research helps students, scholars, and researchers collaborate and innovate at an accelerated pace and has direct and widespread impact on our ability to advance knowledge in academia, medicine, technology, and society as a whole. Open access allows anyone, anywhere to read peer-reviewed research articles without charge, thereby facilitating:

  • Accelerated discovery. With open access, researchers can read and build on the findings of others without restriction.
  • Public enrichment. Much scientific and medical research is paid for with public funds. Open access allows taxpayers to see and use the results of their investment.
  • Improved education. Open access means that teachers and students have access to the latest research findings throughout the world.

Learn More

  • Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook
  • SPARC Open Access
  • Open Access Directory
  • UNESCO Open Access Curriculum