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Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research outputs are distributed online, free of cost or other access barriers.  Through licensing via an open license (usually a Creative Commons License), freely available outputs can also be legally shared and reused. Hence, open access is more than just free access.

The original definitions of open access were first proposed in Budapest in 2002, Berlin in 2003 and Bethesda in 2003

One definition is:

“For scholarly work, Open Access means making all scholarly outputs freely available via the Internet, permitting any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any lawful purpose, without financial, legal or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.”

Since then the technology and legal frameworks associated with open access have been refined, especially the need for associated open licenses.

 

This graphic neatly illustrates the many benefits of open access.



This paper “The academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access: an evidence-based review” discusses the the academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access

The citation advantage for open access papers was analysed in this paper from 2018.

Piwowar H, Priem J, Larivière V, Alperin JP, Matthias L, Norlander B, Farley A, West J, Haustein S. 2018. The state of OA: a large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ 6:e4375 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4375

Open access papers also have more downloads compared with non-open access papers.

Comparison of accumulation page view between OA and non-OA articles Wang, X., Liu, C., Mao, W. et al. Scientometrics (2015) 103: 555. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-015-1547-0

Open access books also have more citations, downloads and usage than non open access books.

Springer Nature white paper The OA effect: How does open access affect the usage of scholarly books? November 2017.
https://www.springernature.com/gp/open-research/journals-books/books/the-oa-effect

Diamond OA refers to community-driven open access (OA) journals that are free for readers and authors.
A recent report commissioned by cOAlition S explore the huge global range of Diamond OA journals

Diamond unearthed: shining light on community-driven Open Access publishing

As defined on the Creative Commons (CC) website:  Creative Commons licences give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law. From the re-user’s perspective, the presence of a Creative Commons licence on a copyrighted work answers the question – “What can I do with this work?” 

There are six CC licences. For help deciding which to use, use the Creative Commons Licence Chooser

Typical publishing workflow for an academic journal article (preprint, postprint, and published) with open access sharing rights per SHERPA/RoMEO.
Thomas Shafee – Own work; adapted from diagram by Ginny Barbour CC BY 4.0

Author’s Original/Preprint is the version of the article before peer review or editing, as submitted by an author to the journal. It is also the version submitted to a preprint server.

Accepted Manuscript (AAM) or “Postprint” is ‘the version of the article accepted for publication including all changes made as a result of the peer review process, but excluding any editing, typesetting or other changes made by journal or publisher.

Final Published Version/Version of Record  is the peer reviewed, edited, formatted and typeset version of the article, including any tagging, indexing and other enhancements from a publisher. It includes any post publication corrections made by a publisher. CrossCheck maintains a system which can check for Versions of Record on published articles

Just as with selecting any journal, do your research. Ask peers and colleagues if they have experience with this publisher. Check which databases the journal is indexed in. Don’t engage with emails sent by people claiming to be publishers. Work through Think Check Submit so you feel more confident in your decision and check the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Don’t reply on “blacklists” of predatory journals. These list are often subjective and may be out of date

How do I find those in my field?

DOAJ is the Directory of Open Access Journals. 

This is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.

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