Open Access is a publishing model that makes scholarly information freely available online without paywalls, subscriptions, or other barriers, and without most restrictions on re-use.
This video provides an introduction to and background information on Open Access publishing:
Scholarly communication encompasses the full spectrum of the process by which scholarly and/or scientific information is produced, disseminated, accessed, and used. Stakeholders include professors and researchers, government, students, and libraries and librarians. Rapidly shifting and evolving, this LibGuide provides resources for exploring and understanding scholarly communication.
Open Access, often abbreviated as OA, is a mode of publishing and disseminating scholarly and other information for free, without restrictions on access or sharing of that information.
What are some reasons Open Access has gained traction as a mode of scholarly communication?
See the video from Piled Higher and Deeper (Ph.D.) Comics below for a deeper look at the issues surrounding Open Access.
Green OA is the practice of providing access to information either in pre- or post-print form, often through self-deposit at an institutional repository, like the Fresno State Digital Commons or the University of California's eScholarship.
Gold OA is access provided through an OA journal, which makes all published content available online for free.
Gratis OA is free access to content.
Libre OA is free access to content as well as additional rights, such as the right to modify or disseminate a work.
Pre-print is the form of a journal article prior to submission and peer review. Journals may allow authors to archive pre-print version of their article in an institutional repository.
Post-print is the form of a journal article after submission, peer review, and changes made by the author to prepare the article for publication, but is not formatted in the journal style (i.e., with headers, columns, font changes, or other journal stylistics).
As an author, you have rights related to the publishing of your work. While scholarly publications have traditionally requested transfer of copyright upon article acceptance, the changing nature of scholarly communications has paved the way for authors to negotiate terms related to their intellectual property. Here are some options if you are interested in retaining more rights related to the dissemination and access of your work post-publishing:
Consider publishing in an open access or hybrid journal
Many journals default to Open Access: perhaps the most known example is PLoS, the suite of journals published by the Public Library of Science. Rather than transferring copyright upon publication, OA journals and authors agree to a license agreement that allows the full and open use of the article by both parties and by reader/users. A hybrid journal is one that publishes both traditional and open access articles: generally, the OA articles are published openly through a fee paid by the article authors. This fee can often be included in grant proposal for research, as grant funders generally support the dissemination of the research they fund.
Negotiate your rights
As an author, you can request to retain total copyright over your work, and license the publication of that work to a journal. You may also negotiate for other elements of rights retention related to how many and by what method you may make copies of your work available. For an extensive list of potential rights to consider, as well as tools for crafting an addendum to a publishing agreement, see the Author’s Rights section of this guide from Florida State University.
Research the policies of the journals you publish in
Being aware of the access policies of your key disciplinary journals can be helpful when choosing a publication. SHERPA/RoMEO is a database that profiles and grades journals based on their open access policies. The HowOpenIsIt? Open Access Spectrum (OAS) from PLoS provides another tool for evaluating the “openness” of a journal.
Unfortunately, there are journals that take advantage of the Open Access mission, and attempt to use the shifting nature of scholarly publishing to make money. At Fresno State, we often receive spam emails in the form of a “call for articles” from these types of publishers. For more on pseudo-journals, see this article from the New York Times. Don’t confuse these publications with reputable OA journals! One list of high-quality, peer-reviewed journals is maintained by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) at https://doaj.org/. A second list that takes the opposite approach and lists potential predatory journals is maintained by a research librarian: Beall's List of Publishers is available at https://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/. Be aware, however, that neither of these lists claims to be comprehensive, and journal titles still require critical review.
Creative Commons is a form of licensing intellectual property (IP) different from traditional copyright, in that it gives the IP holder more flexibility in deciding how they would like people to access and use their information: this means that the creator doesn't need to negotiate licensing with every individual user of their IP, making open uses of information more efficient and achievable.
See the video Get Creative! below from Creative Commons about what Creative Commons does, why, and how.
Interested in using Creative Commons for your own work? Use Creative Common's "Choose a License" tool for finding the right license for you and your work: https://creativecommons.org/choose/