Open Access (OA) is both a set of principles and practices for the publication of digital content freely available to all, without fee or access restrictions for the readers.
Open Access scholarly literature is online, free to read, open to all, and typically permits much greater range for reuse and sharing than other literature. It follows the same peer review and other publishing processes as other scholarly literature.
Benefits of Open Access Publishing
Risks & Challenges of Open Access Publishing
Open Access to literature is available through several different models, sometimes directly on a publisher's website, and sometimes through third-party avenues. These are commonly distinguished by a color code.
Green Open Access
Self-archiving by authors of traditionally published article manuscripts in open repositories or archives, including institutional repositories such as UVM Scholarworks
Gold Open Access
Publication in hybrid or open access journal
Bronze Open Access
Publication is available on a publisher website for readers but with restrictions
Platinum or Diamond Open Access
Publication in an open access journal or on an open access platform
|Open Access Journals||These journals are fully Open Access - all articles in the journal are Open Access by default. They may or may not charge an Author Processing Charge (APC).|
|Hybrid Journals||These journals are by default traditionally published - articles are not accessible to readers without subscriptions, or only become accessible after a time delay after first publication. However, an author may pay an Author Processing Charge (APC) to publish their articles Open Access without delay.|
|Open Access||Texts are covered by copyright protection, but are available for reading or reuse because their authors permit this, typically under the terms of a Creative Commons license.|
Texts or other creative works are available for reading or reuse without seeking permission or offering payment because they are not covered by copyright protection. This may be because their copyright has expired or because they were ineligible for it, as is true of government works, ideas, facts, etc.
Find more information about the Public Domain and how to determine if something is covered by it using the American Library Association's Is it Protected by Copyright? tool.
Many funders and institutions mandate that funded or affiliated research be published either Green or Gold Open Access in order to share supported research as broadly as possible. See your funder's Data Sharing, Repository, Preprint, Public Access and/or Open Access policies to determine your required action.
Predatory publishers frequently mimic legitimate Open Access publishers in order to profit off of the need for researchers to share their work with the broader public. Their methods are ever changing, but being aware of them can help you avoid this trap.
A formal definition:
"Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices."
Grudniewicz, A., Moher, D., Cobey, K. D., Bryson, G. L., Cukier, S., Allen, K., ... & Ciro, J. B. (2019). Predatory journals: no definition, no defense. Science (576)7786. 210-212. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-019-03759-y
Be aware of these common red flags to avoid them: