What "Open" Is and Isn't

"The literature that should be freely accessible online is that which scholars give to the world without expectation of payment."

--From Budapest Open Access Initiative

Open Access Is

Open access makes publications available without subscription or other costs. It allows for worldwide, openly available distribution of scholarship thanks to the technological innovation of the internet.

Approaches to Open Access

There are three approaches to making your work available Open Access.

1 - Deposit your work in an open access repository

Open access repositories accept many types of works, and for published works, the publisher may restrict deposit to a particular version of the work. For example, an author may deposit a pre-print (prior to peer review) of an article, or a post-print (authors final manuscript after peer review) of an article, or the publishers final published version. 

Types of repositories:

  • Subject repositories provide access to publications related to a specific subject/discipline. PubMed Central is an example of a subject repository.
  • Institutional repositories provide access to the intellectual output of an institution. Emory’s institutional repository for faculty works is OpenEmory, and for theses and dissertations is ETDs.
  • Data repositories provide access to data sets.  Emory's data repository is Dataverse.

2 - Open Access Journals

Open access journals are available on the internet for free, and may also have Creative Commons licenses allowing re-use of the content. They often do not require the transfer of authors’ copyright to the journal. Emory hosts several open access journals, including Southern Spaces, Practical Matters, and Molecular Vision.

3 - Open Access Books

More university press publishers are offering open access versions of books with the option to buy a copy.  One example is Luminos, an imprint of the University of California Press.  For Emory faculty in the humanities who are intersted in exploring digital publishing and open access distribution, the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry has a digital publishing initiative which provides support and funding.  Please contact Sarah McKee at sarah.mckee@emory.edu.

Open Access Isn't

  • Open access does not conflict with peer review. For example, the NIH Public Access Policy only requires deposit of peer-reviewed manuscripts in PubMed Central. 
  • Open access need not apply to all works of scholarship. Many OA policies apply to journal articles or similar short works, but not to monographs.
  • Open access need not be not mandatory in all instances. Many university OA policies include a clause to opt-out of depositing an article.
  • Open access often does not ask an author to transfer copyright. Keeping your copyright gives you flexibility for future use of your scholarship. 
  • Open access isn’t free to produce. The costs of producing and distributing scholarship remain, but the costs shift. In some cases, authors may pay to have an article published as Open Access. In other cases, authors can deposit articles in an institutional or subject Open Access repositories at no cost to them.