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Open Access


The Open Access (OA) movement is a call-to-action to remove the barriers that limit our access to reputable, scholarly articles. OA publishing is a reaction to traditional commercial publishing. In traditional commercial publishing, access to content is available only to individuals who have subscriptions to the journal. Libraries provide their patrons with access to certain journals and databases, but they are increasingly costly and restrictive. For an individual who is not affiliated with a library or an institution that has a subscription to the content, it is hidden behind a paywall, so you would need to pay out-of-pocket to access it.

OA publishing promotes the free distribution of scholarly knowledge. In the perfect world, where peer-reviewed publications are shared with all, knowledge is advanced at lightning speed, promoting progress in countless fields, and maximizing the impact of individual and collective research.

Finding Open Access Items

Check out the following resources below to find open access journals, ebooks, and/or articles.

  • Cornell Open
    Cornell Open offers open access to key titles in many fields of study including anthropology, business and economics, education, health and medicine, history, and more.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
    DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
  • The Digital Commons Network
    This resource brings together free, full-text scholarly articles from hundreds of universities and colleges worldwide. The collection currently contains over 3 million articles from over 590 different institutions.
  • Penn State University (PSU) Press Unlocked
    Since 1956, PSU Press has contributed to scholarly discourse by publishing learned, relevant, first-class works for academics and the general public. The open access humanities and social sciences titles found here continue that tradition and reaffirm our commitment to disseminating vital scholarship as widely as possible.

Types of Open Access

There are different ways to make an article open access. Read more about the three main types below.


  • When the author self-archives a pre or post manuscript into a repository
  • Typically involves an embargo, required by the publisher, meaning that the article can’t be added to the repository until a certain time of period has elapsed since its initial publication
  • Authors do not have to pay for article processing charges


  • The article is freely, permanently, and openly accessible to all immediately after publication
  • The article is hosted on the publisher’s website
  • The journal is completely Open Access and does not have any subscription fees (meaning that all of its content is OA)
  • Article processing charges are paid by the author, author’s institution, or research funder before publication


  • The article is freely, permanently, and openly accessible to all immediately after publication
  • The journal charges subscription fees
  • The author, when negotiating with the publisher, has the option to make his/her individual article open access
  • Other articles in the journal may not be open access, so those would only be available for subscribers
  • Article processing charges are paid by the author, author’s institution, or research funder before publication

Pros, Cons, & Myths

While there are many great things about the Open Access movement – it accelerates discovery about the latest research developments, enriches the public, and improves education around the world – there are still downsides that need to be considered.  Read below to find more detailed information concerning the pros, cons, and myths of Open Access.

The Good

Open Access:

  • is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment
  • is the needed modern update for the communication of research that fully utilizes the Internet for what it was originally built to do—accelerate research
  • increases the return on funders’ investment by ensuring the results of the research they fund can be read and built on by anyone
  • expands the number of potential contributors to research from just those at institutions wealthy enough to afford journal subscriptions to anyone with an internet connection
  • encourages researchers to provide their articles to publishers for free, because compensation comes in the form of recognition for research findings
  • means more readers, more potential collaborators, more citations for a researcher’s work, and ultimately more recognition

Open Access” by SPARC is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

The Bad

Open Access requires extra work of the author, who may have to:

  • negotiate an article as OA in a traditional (subscription-based) journal
  • vet the quality of the OA journal before publishing in it
  • go through the process of adding the material to a repository
  • research the copyright restrictions of his/her materials

Additionally, while there is at least one high-quality OA journal in each discipline, some disciplines have more offerings than others. This may be a deterrent to some researchers who want to utilize the articles in an OA journal or publish in one. In this vein, it takes time for any publication to acquire an impact factor. As many researchers are evaluated by their capacity to publish in journals with high impact factors, this is something else to take into consideration, especially if you’re publishing solely in one journal.

The Myths

An open access article means it is not copyrighted.

Wrong! Copyright is handled the same as non-OA articles. The author is the copyright holder unless it is transferred to the publisher during the negotiation process or unless the author is under a contract that grants copyright to a separate entity. Whatever the case, the article is still copyrighted.

There is no direct correlation between journal type and copyright policy. For example, many (not all) Open Access journals have relatively “open” policies that lets authors retain copyright. And while most traditional journals require that authors sign over copyright before publication, many publishers are willing to negotiate the stipulation. Please view our page on negotiating your rights when publishing.

Open Access journals are of poor quality.

Wrong! Many Open Access journals leverage the peer-review process to ensure its content is of the highest standards. Open Access journals are just like traditional (subscription-based) journals, as they can be peer-reviewed or not depending on the journal’s policy. Being open access says nothing about its content – you should always review the publication standards of Open Access and traditional journals to ensure that it participates in the peer-review process.

All Open Access journals charge article processing charges.

Wrong! Some, but not all, Open Access journals have article processing charges. There are a variety of ways that authors can pay these fees – in most instances it is covered by the research funders or universities.

The only way to make one of my articles Open Access is to publish in an Open access journal.

Wrong! You can publish your article in a traditional journal and still make it available as open access through UHWO’s repository, Dspace, or via other methods. Doing so, though, requires foresight and additional planning. Please view our page on negotiating your rights when publishing.

Preserving Your Scholarship

UHWO’s institutional repository, DSpace, provides UHWO faculty, staff, students, researchers, and community members long-term storage of and access to scholarly, creative, and administrative digital content. The repository is provided and maintained by the Library in collaboration with the University of Hawaiʻi Systems office.

The Library encourages UHWO faculty to consider ways to add either personal publications, or student work, to this digital archive of documents. Currently, these are the following sub-communities within Dspace:

For more information about depositing scholarship into Dspace, please contact Librarian Alphie Garcia.

See Also

Related Open Access Ebooks