What is Open Access?
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Time needed to complete this module: 15 minutes
- Define open access in the context of scholarly publishing
- Discuss the importance, benefits, and issues of open access to higher education
- Identify resources available to help scholars find, identify, and publish open access materials
Open access (OA) is a method for sharing scholarship and other research materials in which the scholarly content is shared online at no cost and with no sign-in requirements or other barriers.
Open access makes publications immediately available online, so that any reader can learn from, cite, and share that scholarship. While open access materials are available to read, cite, and share, they are not generally licensed to allow others to repurpose or change the content. If you’re looking for teaching and learning materials you can edit or repurpose, you’ll want to learn more about Open Educational Resources (OER).
Video: Open Access Explained!
The traditional or conventional model for accessing journal articles (also known as “closed access”) is based on subscriptions, which may be paid for by libraries, other institutions, or individuals. The main difference between open access scholarship and conventional subscription-based scholarship is that the bills are not paid by readers, and so they do not function as access barriers (Suber, 2015).
Access barriers associated with subscription-based scholarship are called paywalls, meaning the materials are only available to subscribers or those who pay a fee for access. Open access scholarship is freely available, meaning users should not encounter paywalls.
Suber, P. (2015, December 5). Open access overview. Peter Suber. http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm