The information people use is increasingly available online, often for free, and scholarly publications are no exception. Open access scholarly publications are, as Peter Suber describes them, “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions,” and they may be available at a publisher’s website or placed in a repository by an author. Open access journals are proliferating, as are open access policies at institutions of higher education. Why the  growing interest among scholars in choosing open access?

More Readers

If you want your writing to reach as many people as possible, why limit your audience to those who can pay?

Open access removes barriers between readers and scholarly publications. Widespread open access is new enough that there is still research and debate about how much open access availability improves citation rates. But what is clear is that open access works are read more and have higher download rates. There are simple, free, and legal ways that you can increase your readership and reach new communities of scholars and the general public.  Learn how to take advantage of author archiving or publisher-hosted open access.

Public Good

Health care providers. High school students. People in developing nations. Taxpayers. Open access articles can be reached by anyone with an internet connection. Other scholars in your field may be your primary audience, but the world is full of people who may be enriched by reading scholarly publications. Public service lies at the heart of the University of California’s mission, and sharing the university’s research output is a way to give back to the public and to demonstrate the value of academic work. Learn more:

  • Read about the UC Open Access Policies, adopted by UC faculty and  later expanded to cover all UC employees. These policies help fulfill the university’s public service mission by enabling UC authors to make their scholarship “available to the people of California and the world.”
  • Hear a 16-year-old winner of the Intel Science Fair talk about how he relied on open access articles to develop a breakthrough in diagnosing pancreatic cancer.
  • Watch the PHD Comics video What Is Open Access?
  • Visit the Right to Research Coalition, a student organization advocating that “Access to Research is a Student Right.”

Fulfilling Requirements

Governments, universities, and funding agencies — all interested in the value of their investment in scholarly research — are increasingly requiring that the publications derived from grant-funded research be made publicly available.

  • The Policies & Legislation page has more details about federal and state requirements.
  • The UC Open Access Policies section has more information about the University of California Open Access Policies.
  • SHERPA/JULIET tracks the open access policy requirements of research funders all over the world, and ROARMAP tracks both funder policies and institutional (e.g., university and college) policies.