Open Access (OA) research is digital, online, free of charge, and free of copyright and licensing restrictions. Open Access is made possible by the internet and the consent of the author or copyright holder. Often in the university environment Open Access refers to unrestricted online access to articles published in scholarly journals rather than being hidden behind journal subscription fees.
There are two different approaches to Open Access, known as the Green Road and the Gold Road. This is explained more fully in the Open Access @ USC page. Some journal publishers also provide a third option, Hybrid Open Access, whereby a traditional subscriptions based journal allows articles to be Open Access on publication with the payment of an article processing fee to the publisher.
A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access (Peter Suber)
Allows greater dissemination of research publications to a wider audience.
Increase 'impact' by reaching more readers resulting in more citations. There is evidence that, for articles of citeable quality, reaching more readers will result in more citations (Gargouri et.al., 2010). For journals, Open Access makes the journal more visible and any increase in citations will translate into a higher impact factor (making the journal more attractive to readers and authors).
Accelerates the rate of discovery and the translation into research benefits for the public.
Removes 'price barriers' to access by making research available to many groups which would otherwise not have access, such as practitioners, school students, industry and the general public.
Scales the expansion of the literature - library budgets do not. Even if all journal prices were reasonable, the rapid rise in the number of journals in recent years means that no library can offer comprehensive access to all the relevant literature.
Provides a means for researchers and research institutions to showcase their research.
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