Rensselaer Libraries

Open Access

Overview and Definition of Open Access

There are three major public definitions of open access. These definitions are derived from the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, the Budapest Open Archives Initiative (BOAI), and Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. In general, these three definitions of open access agree that open access literature is freely available online, which carries no price or permission barriers to copying, using, distributing, printing or displaying the information. However, they generally require proper attribution and citation. Open access is distinguished from subscription electronic article databases and journals by the unlimited access it affords. While faculty members can access hundreds of journals and thousands of articles through the Libraries’ databases, an open access publication provides free access to the world.

A more in-depth overview of open access, covering issues, stakeholders, definitions, and more, can be found Peter Suber’s web page focusing on open access to peer-reviewed research articles and their preprints Another website about open access and new opportunities in scholarly communication is Create Change .  It was developed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and is supported by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). To keep informed about open access and changes in scholarly communications, visit for brochures on scholarly communication topics, websites, blogs, discussions lists and more related resources.

Types of Open Access journals currently available

There are a number of open access journals that are peer-reviewed and scholarly publications.  If you are interested in a particular journal, be sure to examine its editorial policies.  The list of publishers below have open access journal content available via Rensselaer Research Libraries’ e-journal list and catalog.

BioMed Central (Open Access)  ( View Titles)

DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals  ( View Titles)

Free Access Journals (HighWire)  ( View Titles)

Free Medical Journals  ( View Titles)

PubMed Central (Open Access)  ( View Titles)

Oxford Open  ( View Titles)

There are many different types of open access journals being offered today.  The range of open access journals include ones that are freely available upon publication such as the Public Library of Science to hybrid models where content is “open” after an embargo period of a few months to a year like many Highwire Press journals.  Additionally, some journals make only certain portions of their content free such as the Chronicle of Higher Education.  No one model for open access journals is the “standard”.

Publishing in an open access journal

Generally, authors who publish in open access journals want to ensure that the results of their research will be immediately available worldwide. Other authors who publish in OA journals want to retain their copyright ownership.  Even though most open access journals allow their author to maintain copyright privileges to their work, copyright ownership depends on the policy of each individual journal. Many forms of open access use a version of the Creative Commons license.

However, if you publish in an open access journal, it does not mean it is free to the author to publish the article. Many print journals impose page charges in order to defray the cost of publication; fees run from around $40 per page to over $100, and some journals have additional charges for color graphics. In a similar vein, there are many different business models for open access, and publication fees vary. Open access, while providing scholarly content free online, still costs money to maintain. Fees range from a flat fee, such as that charged for Springer’s Open Choice, to models that offer institutional memberships to defray a portion of author fees, such as the Public Library of Science. As with many print-only journals, some open access initiatives will waive fees for good cause, for example, absence of an adequate funding source.

Created 12-5-06

Maintained by Glen Wiley

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