Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Open Access

A brief guide about open access

What is Open Access?

Open access (OA) refers to information that is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. This can include journals, books, databases, and more. Learn more.

While OA is a newer forma of scholarly publishing, many OA journals comply with peer-review processes and maintain high publishing standards. More information

Open Access Models: Green vs. Gold

Green Open Access is OA delivered by repositories (Suber, 2012, p. 6). In other words, green OA publishing refers to self-archiving of published or pre-publication version of works that are available for free public use. In this model, authors provide access to preprints or post-prints (with publisher permission) in an institutional or disciplinary repository such as JMU's Scholarly Commons and arXiv.org.

Gold Open Access is OA delivered by journals (Suber, 2012, p. 6). In other words, gold OA publishing refers to works that are published in an open access journal and accessed via the journal or publisher's website. Examples of Gold OA publications include PLOS (Public Library of Science) and BioMed Central

Hybrid journals are journals that do not publish all their articles openly, they offer authors the option of making their articles open access, if the author is willing and able to pay a fee. Gold OA journals often ask for an article processing charge (APC), but when the article is published, it is free for all to read. Hybrid journals are still fundamentally subscription journals with an open access option for individual articles. They are not truly open journals, despite publishers using the term "gold open access" to describe their option and often have the effect of double-dipping; that is, authors may pay and APC to make an article OA in a journal that the institution is paying a subscription for.

Open Access Models: Gratis vs. Libre

Gratis Open Access is information that is available free of charge but the work typically holds traditional copyright and licensing restrictions. 

Libre Open Access is information that is free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. 

Note: When we say the information is free of charge, this does not mean that it is free to produce and publish, in Gold OA there is often a cost to the authors (or affiliated institution or funder of research). 

Learn more about copyright and licensing restrictions

Attribution and License

This guide was created using many resources, many of them are linked throughout the guide and was adapted from the Open Access guide created by Alexa Hight at TAMU-CC.