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Open Access: Overview

An Overview of Our Changing System of Scholarly Communication

Different Types of OA

An image of an open sign in rainbow colors

Photo by Toni Reed on Unsplash

This guide is only in reference to Open Access within the realm of scholarly publishing. This guide will refer to several different types of open access. Here are some short definitions you can use for each. 

Gold-Open access provided directly by the journal. Available as soon as it is published. The article will often be published with a CC-BY license allowing for a wide range of reuses. Sometimes the author (or their institution or funding source) will pay an Article Processing Charge (APC) to the publisher for article preparation. 

Green- Open access either immediately or after an embargo period but the author must self-archive the work (for CSHL researchers you can archive in our institutional repository

Hybrid- A journal which publishes both OA and paywalled articles. Authors will have to pay a fee to make their articles OA. 

Diamond/ Platinum- The same as Gold, however there is no APC as it is covered by a funding source such as a foundation or learned society. 

Bronze- The article is available on the publisher's website for no charge, however it does not have an OA license and access can be revoked at any time for any reason.


What Is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) is a philosophy made possible by the advent of online scholarly publishing and in response to the ever-increasing cost of access to articles published in scholarly journals. It refers to the open, free, and permanent availability of literature published in scholarly journals. OA makes scientific research and progress available to everyone; from researchers around the world to students and the taxpayers who fund so much of the research being performed today. Many funders now require those publications resulting from their funding be made publicly available either immediately or following an embargo period.

The specific features of this free and unrestricted availability are spelled out in various public statements, including the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access. Under the Bethesda and Berlin definitions of open access, it is the author's and copyright holder's responsibility to deposit a complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission statement, “in at least one online repository that is supported and maintained by a well-established institution or organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving.” Under the Bethesda and Berlin definitions of open access, users’ rights consist of “a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose,” as well as “the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.”

Under the Budapest definition, open access means “free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.”

More recently, Plan S has been developed. The underlying principle of Plan S is  "full and immediate Open Access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications from research funded by public and private grants. cOAlition S, the coalition of more than 20 research funders committed to implementing Plan S, aims to accelerate the transition to a scholarly publishing system that is characterized by immediate, free online access to, and largely unrestricted use and re-use (full Open Access) of scholarly publications". Many European and private funding sources have signed onto Plan S and have or will soon begin requiring OA  publishing for work that they have funded. 


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