Understanding Open Access

"Open access (OA) literature is a method of sharing scholarship that is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes OA possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.”

--From A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access by Peter Suber

Why Open Access Matters

  • Greater reach - Open access publishing increases the impact and citation of your work.  
  • Access – Open access gives your students better access to scholarship. You can share open access content without worrying about copyright restrictions.
  • Compliance - Open access journals and repositories help you meet funder requirements.
  • Sustainability – The journal publishing system is not sustainable. Researchers provide work for academic journals at little or no cost. Open access supporters argue that authors should not pay to access content that they supplied, reviewed, and edited for free.  

What can I do?

As an author, reviewer or editor:

  • When possible, choose to publish in open access journals.
  • If you publish in a subscription-based journal, keep your copyright. Then archive the work in an Open Access repository, like OpenEmory. For more information on keeping your copyright, visit SPARC’s Author Addendum to Publication Agreement.
  • Decline to publish, review, or serve as editor for expensive journals.
  • Help launch open access journals in your field or department. Serve on the editorial board for open-access journals.

As a member of a department and professional associations:

  • Help colleagues understand how open access addresses problems in traditional scholarly publishing. Serve on committees on publishing, and write opinion pieces on the topic for newsletters.
  • When serving on hiring, tenure, grant-review, or promotion committees, do not use price or distribution of a journal as a measure of quality. Discourage others from doing so.
  • Communicate with librarians about the real value of individual subscription-based journals. Help them determine which subscriptions your institution can do without.