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Open Access Movement

Open Access

"Open Access"means providing free access to works through the Internet. Open Access is primarily for scholarly journal articles (authors receive no monetary compensation for the work) and is not used when authors expect to make money from their works (monographs, textbooks, music, etc.)

Gold Open Access

"Gold Open Access" (Immediate Open Access) means the work is freely available from its initial publication, and a growing trend in scholarly communication is the publication of Gold Open Access journals. Although Gold Open Access means that the articles from such journals are free to readers, the journals are not produced without expenses, and therefore, alternative funding models are frequently used. In most cases, costs are covered through article processing fees, foundation sponsorships, in-kind contributions, advertising, or other sources of support, and these funding models are emerging as an alternative to the traditional subscription model. The most prominent business model for Gold Open Access Journals is the use of article processing fees, and depending on the journal, these fees range greatly (usually from $100 up to $3,000), and although the author is responsible for paying the fees, they are frequently paid through the grants that financed the original research (authors are increasingly writing such fees into their grant proposals -- for instance, the National Institutes of Health recommends it). For a description of the various business models for Gold Open Access journals, see Income Models for Supporting Open Access.

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists over 8,000 Gold Open Access journals, representing about 10% of the total number of peer-reviewed journals that are published, so Gold Open Access journals are still a small (but rapidly growing) minority of peer-reviewed journals. The growth trend for Gold Open Access journals will undoubtedly continue -- it is here to stay. The Journal A-Z List includes all 8,000 DOAJ titles, plus another 8000-or-so additional free and OA serials. Taken as a group, UNCG’s free and OA titles receive less usage than Elsevier titles, but more usage than the titles UNCG gets from each of the following -- Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Springer, Wiley, Taylor and Francis, Sage, Emerald, Mary Ann Liebert, etc.

Gold Open Access, Article Processing Fees, and Hybrid Journals

For some traditional, subscription-based journals, publishers are now accepting article processing fees to make individual articles openly accessible from initial publication in new issues. Such journals are called “hybrids,” because they actually have a mix of Gold Open Access articles and subscription-accessible-only articles in each issue published. Hybrid journals allow traditional publishers to provide Gold Open Access for authors who desire it or need it for mandate purposes, and the author-fee income allows the publishers to hold down subscription fees. As one publisher reported, "the more open access content published in a journal, the lower the future (subscription) price."

Green Open Access (Delayed Open Access)

"Green Open Access" (Delayed Open Access) means that the work is freely available after an embargo period (time when the work is only available to individuals and libraries that subscribe to the publication), usually a period of 6-months to 1-year. Green Open Access archiving is usually achieved by the author posting a personal electronic copy (Microsoft Word version) of an article to a disciplinary or institutional repository (however, some publishers allow the publisher's PDF version). For information about publishers' green open access policies, see SHERPA RoMEO.

Disciplinary Repositories

Although there are several widely known disciplinary repositories (see arXiv.org, the physics repository, and bepress Legal Repository, the law-related repository), probably the best known disciplinary repository is PubMed Central, the open-access archive of life science and biomedical journal articles developed by the National Institutes for Health (NIH). In December 2007, a federal law was passed that required NIH-funded researchers to submit an electronic version of their final, peer reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central. In April 2008, The NIH Public Access Policy took effect. The NIH policy is probably just a precursor of things to come for taxpayer financed research, as taxpayers are increasingly expecting that research produced from public funds should be made available free to the public after a reasonable period (Green Open Access), see The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA).

Institutional Repositories

Institutional Repositories (IRs) are open-access archives hosted by universities that store, index, preserve, and redistribute the intellectual output of a university’s research faculty, with MIT’s DSpace and the University of California’s eScholarship Repository being two of the better known. NC DOCKS is the name of UNCG's institutional repository, which has been developed as part of a UNC-System consortia (Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, UNC Ashville, UNC Wilmington, & UNC Pembroke). In February 2008, Harvard University's Arts & Sciences faculty voted unanimously to establish an Open-Access Self-Archiving Mandate that requires all Harvard faculty to post copies of their journal articles into Harvard's Institutional Repository, with the stipulation that the articles must be made available through open access within one year of publication. Following Harvard's move, a growing number of American colleges and universities have passed Open Access (OA) mandates. For information about open access repositories, see The Directory of Open Access Repositories - OpenDOAR and The Registry of Open Access Repositories.

Author Benefits from Open Access Publishing

Through Open Access, authors enjoy greater discoverability through Internet search engines and rapid worldwide access to their publications. A growing number of studies have shown that, across all disciplines, open access articles have greater research impact than traditional publications—OA articles are read by more scholars and cited more frequently. Authors who adopt open-access practices (see Author Rights) are being rewarded for it with increased recognition of their publications—an author with OA publications enjoys a larger community of readers who reference the author’s works with greater numbers of citations.