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Open Access

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Hillary Miller's picture
Hillary Miller
Contact:
hmiller5@vcu.edu
Cabell Library, 121-C
(804) 827-0462

What Is Open Access?

Open access refers to free, immediate, online access to information and research and additionally, information and research that is free from most copyright and licensing restrictions. Some commonly used open access terms include:

  • Green open access: when authors self-archive their works, for example, by adding a preprint to a disciplinary archive or sharing a post-print in an institutional repository (like VCU Scholars Compass)
  • Gold open access: when works are published in an open access journal and made open immediately on publication
  • Hybrid open access: when individual articles are made open access in an otherwise subscription access journal, usually for a fee
  • Preprint: the version of a scholarly work submitted for peer review that includes only the original work of the author(s)
  • Post-print: also known as the author's final version or accepted manuscript, this version incorporates all changes from peer review, but it has not yet been copyedited and formatted for final publication
  • Creative Commons: a nonprofit organization that creates licenses under which works are distributed with reused permissions granted upfront
  • Addendum: these are attached to publishing or copyright transfer agreements so authors can request additional rights beyond those already granted by the publisher (like the SPARC Author Addendum)

Common terms adapted from Molly Keener's Open Access Guide from Wake Forest University's Z. Smith Reynolds Library.

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 from the SPARC Impact Stories.

What Problem is Open Access Addressing?

What is the problem? Universities (funded by taxpayers and tuition) and grant funders pay faculty to do research and report on results in articles. Faculty give away articles and copyright to publishers for free, and other researchers peer review for free. Publishers rake in all the money, and it is big money. Many students, researchers, and others still can't get the articles they need and libraries cannot afford many journals.

What is the Problem? Infographic. Content by Jill Cirasella and Graphic Design by Les LaRue, 
used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.