What is Open Access?

Open-access (OA) literature is material that is digital, offered online free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. There is already a lot of open access research available on the internet. It includes articles, books and book chapters, conference papers, theses, working papers and preprints. The combination of the internet with the consent of authors or copyright-holders make open access possible.

To make your research publicly available, you can add them to UQ eSpace (The University of Queensland's institutional digital repository for publications, research, and teaching materials). UQ eSpace provides free, searchable access to openly available UQ research, publications and teaching materials and manages their long-term archiving. It also provides access in many cases to citations and abstracts only. This happens when the author does not have permission from a publisher or copyright-holder to make the work openly available.

You can find out more about open access at the Open Access Directory or search for, or within, a list of open access journals at the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Introduction to Open Access

An Open Access overview by Peter Suber: a reasonably short and succinct overview of what Open Access is all about.

An Open Access prima by Mark Funk: a beginners guide to Open Access that covers a large range of information.

What is NOT Open Access: a brief overview of what does not constitute Open Access.

Open Access myths: a site by Biomed Central that answers some of the key concerns people have about Open Access.

Timeline of the Open Access Movement: a chronological list of the major Open Access events.

Open Access (publishing): the Open Access page on Wikipedia.

Library access to scholarship: a current (November 2009) review of Open Access.

The importance of Open Access

Published research results and ideas are the foundation for future progress in science and medicine. Open Access publishing therefore leads to wider dissemination of information and increased efficiency in science, by providing open access to ideas and open access to the broadest audience.

Whether you are a patient seeking health information, an educator wishing to enliven a lesson plan, or a researcher looking to formulate a hypothesis, making papers freely available online provides you with the most current peer-reviewed scientific information and discoveries.

The idea of open access is based on the view that research findings, particularly in health sciences, should be freely and immediately available to the world-wide scientific community, clinicians and the public, (from the PLoS).

Principles and statements on Open Access

Group of Eight (Australia)- the Group of Eight vice-chancellors, representing Australia's pre-eminent research universities, record their commitment to open access initiatives that will enhance global access to scholarly information for the public good.

Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI)- a series of principles for promoting and maintaining open access developed at a Meeting of the Academies of Sciences in Budapest, January 2003.

Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities - adopted at the conference on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, 20-22 Oct 2003, Berlin.

Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing - a document drafted during a meeting on April 11, 2003 at the headquarters of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, in order to stimulate discussion on open access within the biomedical research community.

HHMI Public Access Policy- issued by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in June, 2007, the policy requires the HHMI's scientists to publish their original research articles in scientific journals that allow the articles and supplementary materials to be made freely accessible in a public repository within six months of publication.

IFLA Statement on open access to scholarly literature and research documentation- a statement adopted by the Governing Board of IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) at its meeting in The Hague on 5th December 2003.

OECD Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy: Declaration on Access to Research Data from Public Funding- a declaration on access to research data from public funding, issued in January, 2004, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international organization that focuses on fostering good governance in the public service and in corporate activity.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research (Public Access Policy), May 2, 2005.- "...requests and strongly encourages all investigators to make their NIH-funded peer-reviewed, author's final manuscript available to other researchers and the public through the NIH National Library of Medicine's (NLM) PubMed Central (PMC) immediately after the final date of journal publication."

Open Letter to the U.S. Congress Signed by 26 Nobel Prize Winners (July 8, 2007)- expresses strong support for the House Appropriations Committee's directive to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that requires the NIH Public Access Policy to be made mandatory.

Washington D.C. principles for free access to science- the principles outlining the commitment of not-for-profit publishers to providing free access and wide dissemination of research findings. March 16, 2004.

Wellcome Trust Position Statement in Support of Open Access Publishing - a statement by the Wellcome Trust, a UK-based major "independent charity funding research to improve human and animal health," to support "open and unrestricted access to the published output of research, including the open access model . . . as a fundamental part of its charitable mission and a public benefit to be encouraged wherever possible."

Australian OA Initiatives

Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR): to establish a centre of excellence for the management of digital collections.

National Library of Australia: has implemented Open Publish to advance the Library's understanding of hosting an open access journal publishing service using Open Journal Systems.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT): has developed the Oak Law Project (Open Access to Knowledge) with the goal to make sharing knowledge across domains, and the world, both legal and efficient.

Macquarie University: has voted that research articles be deposited in the online Macquarie University repository, ResearchOnline, after acceptance for publication.

Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (ARROW): has been developed to identify and test software or solutions to support best practice institutional digital repositories comprising e-prints, electronic theses, e-research and electronic publishing.

Australian Research Councils funding rules for 2008: this document sets out the funding rules for Discovery Projects, a scheme funded under the Australian Research Council's National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP), which comply with the requirements of the ARC Act.

Australian Research Council (ARC) - Have now stated clearly in their funding rules that a reason must be provided if researchers do not deposit into a subject or institutional repository. Relevent section is: 1.4.5. Dissemination of research outputs.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) - Has recently stated in their 2008 Funding Policy that in order to maximise the benefits from research they fund that researchers are encouraged to deposit their data in an electronic repository wherever possible. Relevent section is 31. Dissemination of Grant Outcomes.

Recent Australian OA news

Australian Bureu of Statistics (ABS) adopts Creative Commons (CC) license: in an ongoing project to enhance the design and functionality its website the ABS will adobt an Attribution-only Creative Commons license for the majority of its web content on the 18th and 19th of December 2008.

Review of the National Innovation System recommends Open Access: The Australian government on September 9 released the final report of its Review of the National Innovation System, entitled VenturousAustralia. The report includes this recommendation: "... Australian governments should adopt international standards of open publishing as far as possible. Material released for public information by Australian governments should be released under a creative commons licence. ..."

Australia increases commitment to Open Access: Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, said he intended to implement reforms aimed at "unlocking public information and content, including the results of publicly funded research", following a review of the country's innovation.

Open Access publishing: A two-day Public Knowledge Project Workshop December 4 and 5, 2008 at the University of Sydney.

Open Access and Research Conference 2008 - held in Brisbane from the 24th to the 25th of September this conference will discuss ways to optimise access to and reuse of research especially that which is publicly funded.

A fourth OA mandate for Australia: Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released its Project Grants Funding Policy for funding commencing in 2008 (undated). The new NHMRC policy is to encourage open access for the research it funds.

Australia's ARC expects OA for ARC-funded projects: the Australian Research Councils (ARC) Funding Rules for funding commencing in 2008.

How to deposit in an Institutional Repository

The University of Queensland has its own Institutional Repository called UQ eSpace. Academics are encouraged to deposit their pre-print papers in this repository. For help with this either consult the FAQ page or contact them.

Authors will need to check the journals policy on depositing papers to determine whether there are any barriers to depositing, for instance some publishers require a payment, some allow it to be deposited after an embargo period, while others will not allow depositing at all. The depositing policies of individual publishers can be checked in RoMEO

Different publishers allow different rights in regards to archiving articles. The following colour codes were established to make it easier to quickly and easily identify these rights.

Green - can archive pre-print and post-print

Blue - can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing)

Yellow - can archive pre-print (ie pre-refereeing)

White - archiving not formally supported

Pre-print is the version of the paper before peer review.

Post print is the version of the paper after peer review.

For more information consult the SHERPA definitions and terms page

If a publisher does not allow the depositing of papers then it is possible for an author to modify the license agreement or to negotiate with the publisher in order to have the license changed to allow it.

How to publish in an Open Access Journal

There are many Open Access Journals available to publish in. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) can be searched to find specific journals of interest in a subject area, for example the medical journal PLoS Medicine.

When submitting papers to an Open Access journal the submission process is virtually identical to that of submitting to a traditional subscription, or Toll Access journal, with the exception that there may be a publishing fee to be paid by the author.

How to publish in a subscription or Toll Access Journal

It is becoming more and more common for publishers to allow an article being published in their journals to be made Open Access. If an author wishes their paper to be made Open Access they submit the article as normal and after it is accepted they pay a publishing fee, this fee can be checked at RoMEO.

This means the paper appears in the journal as normal with the exception that anyone in the world can access it without requiring a subscription to the journal itself. An example of this is the Springer Open Choice model.

Copyright information

Open Access requires either the consent of the copyright holder or that the paper resides in the public domain, usually it is the former.

Although Open Access uses copyright-holder consent it does not require that copyright holders waive all the rights that run to them under copyright law and that they assign their work to the public domain.

Copyright holders normally consent to the unrestricted reading, downloading, copying, sharing, storing, printing, searching, linking, and crawling of the full-text of the work. Authors can choose to retain the right to block the distribution of mangled or misattributed copies. Or to block the commercial re-use of the work. Essentially, these conditions block plagiarism, misrepresentation, and sometimes commercial re-use, and authorize all the uses required by legitimate scholarship, including those required by the technologies that facilitate online scholarly research.

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) License is a an example of an Open Access license.

The Creative Commons provides a range of tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use the Creative Commons to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved." The Creative Commons Legal Code (the full attribution license) is a standardised license for use in Open Access.

The Science Commons Scholar's Copyright Addendum Generator can help you to modify and supplement your publication agreement.

Access providers

arXiv.org: provides Open Access to 473,313 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology and Statistics.

Bioline International: a not for profit electronic publishing service committed to providing Open Access to journals published in developing countries.

BioMed Central: provides access to over 190 Open Access journals covering all areas of biology and medicine.

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ): this database covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals.

Public Library of Science: a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource via Open Access journals.

PubMed Central: the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.

SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online): provides Open Access to scientific journals published in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

OAIster: search institutional repositories, including 21 in Australia, for digital resources.


Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR): a comprehensive database of all open access and institutional repositories.

OpenDOAR: the Directory of Open Access Repositories.

RoMEO: publishers with paid options for Open Access: a listing of prices and policies to publish an Open Access article with a subscription based publisher.

RoMEO: publisher copyright policies & self-archiving database: use this site to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.

JULIET: research funders' open access policies: use this page to find a summary of policies given by various research funders as part of their grant awards.

PhysNet: The Physics Departments and Documents Network - information from physics departments and institutes worldwide.

OAKList Database: use QUT's OAKList to find Open Access in regards to journals and publishers.

Institutional Repository Bibliography (IRB): presents selected English-language articles, books, and other scholarly textual sources that are useful in understanding institutional repositories.


Publishers allow more than authors think: publishers' agreements are more liberal than journal authors think, but do not allow self-archiving of the published PDF.

Guidance from SHERPA: a page designed to provide information and answers about how an author would publish an Open Access paper.

Science Commons: whose goal is to speed the translation of data into discovery, unlocking the value of research so more people can benefit from the work scientists are doing.

Increase your Impact: Open Access Tools and Your Research Data: Presented by Keith Webster, University Librarian and Director of Learning Services: streaming video presentation that covers Open Access myths and how it can help your academic career.

Publishing in Today's Environment: Presented by John Wilbanks, Vice President Science Commons : a follow on from the above presentation that covers Open Access publishing.

A Big Bucket Full of Data: the ARCS Data Services: Presented by Florian Goessmann : The Australian Research Collaboration Service (ARCS) is an Australia wide joint-venture of eight providers of advanced computing and eResearch facilities.