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Open Access Publishing Guide: What is Open Access?

This guide provides information about and resources related to open access scholarly publishing.

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Gratis vs. Libre

 Gratis & Libre -- Source:


Gratis OA is information that is available free of charge, while some copyright and licensing restrictions may still apply.

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

While "free" implies that the information does not cost anything to access, remember that OA publishing still often involves a cost to the author to publish the work.

Defining Open Access

 Open access (OA) refers to freely available, digital, online information. Open access scholarly literature is free of charge and often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works, for both the users and the authors.

While OA is a newer form of scholarly publishing, many OA journals comply with well-established peer-review processes and maintain high publishing standards. For more information, see Peter Suber's overview of Open Access.

Green vs. Gold

Green OAGreen OA publishing refers to the self-archiving of published or pre-publication works for free public use. Authors provide access to preprints or post-prints (with publisher permission) in an institutional or disciplinary archive such as UT Southwestern's Institutional Repository and

Gold OAGold OA publishing refers to works published in an open access journal and accessed via the journal or publisher's website. Examples of Gold OA include PLOS (Public Library of Science) and BioMed Central. Hybrid journals offer authors the option of making their articles open access, for a fee. Hybrid journals are still fundamentally subscription journals with an open access option for individual articles. They are not true open access journals, despite publishers' use of the term "gold open access" to describe this arrangement.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Content attributed to Cornell University Library.