UC Berkeley Library > Library Collections > Scholarly Communication > Hot Topics: Open Access

Hot Topics:

Open Access

Open access defined

Open-access (OA) literature is free, digital, and available to anyone online. An open-access article has limited copyright and licensing restrictions which means anyone, anywhere, with access to the Internet may read, download, copy, and distribute that article.

As with any scholarly article — traditional or otherwise — authors of an open-access article should be properly acknowledged and cited.

More readers, greater impact

Open access provides barrier-free access to information. Researchers from anywhere in the world can read scholarly output that has been made available in an open-access journal. A wider audience, in turn, has the potential to increase the impact of the research presented in an open-access article. A 2006 study by a University of Southampton researcher, Evaluating Research Impact through Open Access to Scholarly Communication, found that authors receive 50-250% more citations.

The economics of open access

While open access is free to readers, open access is not free of production costs. As with traditional academic journals published by commercial firms, articles published in open-access journals must be peer-reviewed, edited, distributed, marketed, etc.

The two main economic models for open-access publishing are:

How to make your article open access

Gold OA (immediate access)
  1. Submit your article to an open-access journal: An open-access journal is one that makes its articles available immediately upon publication. OA journals conduct peer review and allow authors to retain their copyright. Consult the Directory of Open Access Journals for a list of more than 3000 OA publications.

  2. Publish in a hybrid open-access journal: Variations on OA have emerged including the concept of "hybrid open access." Blackwell, Springer, Oxford University Press, Nucleic Acids Research, PNAS, and other traditional, subscription-based journals or publishers, will make articles immediately available to the public if the author pays an additional open-access fee. These publishers have come up with a variety of terms to describe their open access policies including "sponsored article" (Elsevier), "open choice" (Springer), and "funded access" (Wiley).

    (Note: Berkeley faculty members may now apply for funding to subsidize open access or paid access fees through the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) program.)

Green OA (self-archiving)
  1. Deposit your article in open-access archives or repositories: A repository can be a pre-print server such as the arXiv.org e-print service at Cornell (this is a pre-print server and thus is not peer-reviewed in the traditional sense) or a subject repository such as PubMed Central, the free digital archive of biomedical and life science literature administered by the National Institutes of Health. UC's eScholarship hosts a Postprint service. This means that after UC authors have published an article in a journal (for instance, a traditional commercial or society journal), they can post the authors' version on eScholarship. That research then becomes widely available and discoverable via tools like Google.

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