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Open Access

This guide provides an introduction to Open Access, "the free, immediate, online availability of research articles combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment."

Gold Open Access

Open Access logoGold Open Access refers to articles that are published in fully Open Access journals, where all the content is freely available to everyone without subscription fees or paywalls.

Since Open Access journals do not charge for access to content, they must operate on some other model to cover their costs. Some OA journals are funded by scholarly societies or professional organizations as part of their operations. Commonly, however, Gold OA means that authors pay to cover the costs of publication through publishing fees, often referred to as article processing charges, or APCs.

Those doing sponsored research may be able to include costs of publication in their funding proposals.

As an alternative to the "author pays" model, many libraries are entering into "read and publish" agreements, also called transformative agreements. In these cases, a single contract will cover subscription access to a publisher's journals for readers at an institution and APCs for Open Access articles published by authors affiliated with the institution. The CSU has an agreement like this with Elsevier, and may add agreements with more publishers.

Green Open Access

Green Open Access means a version of an article, often the accepted version of the author's manuscript, is made available without charge, even if the published version is behind a subscription paywall. Most publishers have a Green OA or "self archiving" policy, which allows for sharing articles Open Access for greater exposure and to meet any funders' or institutional Open Access requirements.

You can check your publisher's site for their self archiving policy, or look up policies by journal title in Sherpa/Romeo, a database of Green OA policies.

If your publisher doesn't have a policy for Green OA, you may be able to negotiate permission for this as a part of your author agreement. The SPARC Author Addendum provides a document you can add to your author's agreement to retain your rights for self archiving.

Policies for Green OA or self archiving vary on many terms, such as...

What version of the article can be shared. The policy may allow sharing:

  • The version of the article as originally submitted for publication, also called the author's submitted manuscript (ASM), or less commonly these days, the "pre-print."
  • The revised version of the article accepted for publication, also called the author's accepted manuscript (AAM) or "post-print."
  • In unusual cases, the published version of record.

Where the article can be shared. Common options include:

  • An institutional repository, such as ScholarWorks in the CSU.
  • A personal website, which may include a profile page on a department web site, or sometimes academic social media sites such as ResearchGate.

When the article can be shared. Green OA policies sometimes require an embargo, or delay after publication, before the self archived version can be shared. Sometimes the length of the embargo will vary depending on the version being shared or the location where it is being shared.

Other terms

You may hear other terms used to describe Open Access arrangements.

  • Hybrid refers to making articles available Open Access on a per-article basis in a journal that is otherwise paywalled. This is similar to Gold OA, in that the published version of record is OA, and there will usually be costs to the author if they choose this option. Hybrid was originally intended as a transitional approach whereby journals would gradually become fully Open Access. However, this rarely happens, and the persistence of  hybrid models raises some concerns.
  • Platinum or Diamond Open Access means Gold OA, but without any fees charged to the authors. Publications that offer this kind of Open Access are often funded by societies or institutions, or they may operate under alternate models such as "subscribe to open," where subscribers voluntarily continue paying in order to make content available to everyone.
  • Bronze Open Access refers to content in paywalled journals that is made freely available by the publisher. They may do this for publicity or to share important research.