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Open Access

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Open Access Explained

What is Open Access?

The open access movement has emerged in response to a number of factors: growing journal costs and disparities in access to scholarship, the emergence of the internet, as well as the growing number large scale problems that require large and diverse team engagement.

While open access generally refers to published scholarly journal articles, the open movement also encompasses:

  • open data
  • open educational resources
  • open science

These facets of open research impact different communities in different ways, but all contribute an important piece to open scholarship.

At a more basic level, OA applies to published scholarly material, making it available online free of charge to all. OA fits into scholarly communication norms. Just like any reputable journal, OA journals still:

  • peer review
  • are indexed in research databases
  • have copyright agreements

Why Does OA Matter?

Access to Research & Increased Impact

  • Open access publishing makes it possible for more scholars, policy makers, practitioners, clinicians, and the general public to be able to view, cite, and share your work. Your research could have a direct application towards current practices, methodologies, and policies.

Improve Community Engagement

  • Community organizations, clinicians, and practitioners may not have comprehensive access to subscription journals, or the resources to pay for costly copyright fees. Opening research allows for publications to become actualized in the form of policies, treatments, funding allocations, and decisions. 

Accelerate Research

  • More increasingly, research is being done by large and diverse teams spanning across institutions and geographic regions. Copyright agreements often inhibit the open sharing of publications. OA publishing enables equal access to vital information. 


  • Library budgets are remaining the same, while serials costs are continually rising. Institutions are in the position of funding research, and then purchasing it back through journal subscriptions.