Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources (OER): Open Access

This libguide is designed to help students, faculty, and staff learn about and use Open Educational (OER) and Open Access resurces as well as Creative Commons and Copyright.

Find OA materials with Google Scholar

Use Google Scholar to find open access materials from around the web.  

Google Scholar will link to open access sources when available.

Google Scholar Search

Open Access Search Engines

Open access search engines index repositories and online journals that provide open access content, creating a single search of many sources.

Open Access


Open access (OA) resources are digital literature made available online free of charge.  Open access strives to remove the barriers to access scholarly research and information.  As a category, open access includes both repositories or archives of self-submitted works and open access journals that follow the peer-review model.

Open Access Publishing Models

Open access journals typically have the following characteristics:

  • They are scholarly/ peer reviewed
  • Utilize quality control mechanisms just like conventional journals
  • Freely and openly available on the web
  • No charge to readers

Authors can publish their work in a traditional open access journal, a hybrid open access journal, or a delayed open access journal.

Traditional Open Access Journals

  • Journals established by digital commercial or nonprofit publishers for the sole purpose of publishing open access content
  • Typically  utilize a Creative Commons Attribution License for publishing
  • Authors usually retain their copyright.
  • Different funding strategies used to support the journal:
    • Advertising
    • Membership fees
    • Author fees (money may come from the author or more likely the author's research grant)
      • Can be waived in cases of financial hardship
    • Subsidies from institutions such as universities, laboratories, research centers, libraries, foundations, museums or government agencies

Ex:  Journals published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS)

Hybrid Open Access Journals

  • Journals where only some of the articles are open access
  • Open access status requires the payment of a publication fee/ processing fee to the publisher
  • Definition of open access may vary according to publisher

Ex: Publishers offering hybrid open access include:  Elsevier:  Open Access Options; Oxford University Press:  Oxford Open; SAGE Publications:  SAGE Open; for a more extensive list of publishers visit SHERPA/RoMEO's page Publishers with Paid Options for Open Access

Delayed Open Access Journals

  • Traditional subscription-based journal
  • Provide open access or free access after the elapse of an embargo period following the initial date of publication
    • Embargo periods vary from a few months to two or more years
  • Journal subscription or individual article purchase required to view articles prior to the end of the embargo period
  • Model adopted by many scholarly society journals

Ex. Journal Molecular Biology of the Cell (2 month embargo)

Adapted from Vanderbilt University Libraries

Authors self-archive pre-print¹ or post-print² copies of their articles or conference papers in:

  • Institutional repositories, e.g. DiscoverArchive
  • Subject or discipline-specific repositories, e.g.
  • Author's Personal Websites

For tenure review purposes self-archiving is not considered a valid form of peer-review publication.

Although self-archiving copies of your work won't help you with tenure, there are still benefits:

  • Increased visibility, exposure, usage and impact of your research
  • Expanded readership of your work beyond subscribers to the journal in which the research is published


1. pre-print = the version of the article before the peer review process

2. post-print = the version of the article after the peer review process, with edits but lacking final formatting used in the journal

Adapted from Vanderbilt University Libraries


Open Access Repositories

Access research and scholarly articles made available in these open access repositories. 

Directory of Open Access Repositories


"OpenDOAR is an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories. Each OpenDOAR repository has been visited by project staff to check the information that is recorded here. This in-depth approach does not rely on automated analysis and gives a quality-controlled list of repositories"

Registry of Open Access Repositories

"The aim of ROAR is to promote the development of open access by providing timely information about the growth and status of repositories throughout the world."

OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe) Respository Directory

Directory of Open Access repositories from European institutions compiled and maintained by OpenAIRE with 41 participating partners from all European Union member states.


Myths about OA

Is it true that Open Access means an article is not copyrighted?

No. Choosing to publish through an open access channel does not mean the article is not copyrighted.

The same options exist when publishing through an open access channel as when an article is published through a controlled-access (or traditional subscription) model: the author may in some cases be able to retain copyright, or may be required to grant the journal publisher copyright. But in either case, the article is still copyrighted, either by you or the publisher.

There is no direct and clean relationship between open access journals and copyright policy. Many, but not all, open access journals have liberal polices that allow authors to retain copyright. Most traditional subscription-based journals have standard copyright transfer agreements that require authors to turn over copyright upon publication, but some such publishers will agree to negotiate this requirement, or have a standard agreement that is more liberal.

Some publishers of hybrid journals allow authors to retain copyright for articles published under their open access option; others will still ask that you transfer copyright.

Even when self-publishing on the web, the author has copyright to the content. (Registering copyright is not required, although it has some advantages.) As an author and copyright holder, if you wish to clearly instruct readers about what you authorize them to do with your content, you can attach a creative commons license.

Is it true that Open Access articles and journals are not peer-reviewed?

No. A journal”s economic or access policy does not determine its peer review policy. Most scholarly journals, whether open access or controlled-access journals, are peer-reviewed. There are both open and controlled journals that are not peer-reviewed.

Most major publishers now have an open access option for individual articles. This does not change the submission, peer review, or editorial process for those journals or articles.

Is it true that Open Access journals are built on a premise that they are “free”?

No. As others have briefly summarized this point: Open Access journals and articles are not “free” in the sense of “free lunch;” they do aim to be free, however, in the sense of “free speech.” Supporters of Open Access do not assume that documenting and providing access to research can be carried out without cost, but they do assume that research should be accessible to readers without barriers. So the costs involved in editing, refereeing, producing, and distributing a journal are expected to be managed through a business model other than payment for access to the content.

For more information, see: How do the economics of open access work? and a summary of ten flavors of open access in John Willinsky’s The Access Principle.

Is it true that Research is already openly available enough?

No. It’s true that preprints and postprints are made widely available on the internet, with or without the consent of the publisher of the final article. However, many authors are constrained by publisher policies from making all their research available, and disciplines vary in their support for making pre- or post- prints available. One 2006 paper co-authored by a leader in the OA movement, Stevan Harnad, estimates that only 15% overall of articles are being made available “through spontaneous self-archiving” into institutional repositories by their authors.

A recent study (pdf) by Ted Bergstrom, an economics professor at UC Santa Barbara, showed that of very recent economics articles published in 25 journals, 73% were available in a free version through a Google search. This is a significant percentage, but it still indicates that more than ¼ of the articles were excluded from access. Bergstrom concludes that the self-archived, freely accessible copies are very important since “many readers have no access to publisher-posted copies,” including “small universities, private sector, and third world countries.”

In the developing world, even though there are important initiatives to make research available at little or no cost (see for example HINARI and AGORA), access varies by publisher, discipline, and location. High priced subscriptions and exclusive/restrictive license agreements work to lock down access; these praiseworthy methods of extending access do not provide broad and complete access to research. (See also: recent commentary on HINARI in PLoS Medicine.)

Is it true that Open Access will inevitably harm scholarly societies?

No. It is inevitable that all publishers will need to adjust existing economic models to meet the realities of, and fully realize the capabilities of, internet access. All members of the scholarly community – authors, readers, publishers, librarians, and academic administrators – will need to collaborate to build the best models for scholarly publishing and access in the digital age. The best new models are likely to require significant change from all the players; the existing controlled-access journal subscription model, particularly in cases where the journals are high-priced, may not serve the community as well as it has in the past. New economic models need to be developed and tested, a process that is already underway.

None of this means that scholarly societies, many of which depend on revenue from their publication programs, will necessarily be jeopardized by transitioning to these new economic models. As Clifford Lynch, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, has recently said about journals published by scholarly societies: “their journals typically are viewed as offering high quality at reasonable cost, and there’s no reason that they shouldn’t continue to be highly competitive if one moves away from a reader-pays model.”

Resources exist to assist publishers who want to try open access models. See for example the Open Society Institute’s Guide to Business Planning for Converting a Subscription-based Journal to Open Access.

Is it true that Open Access journals have lower impact factors?

No. There are high impact factor open access journals in a wide range of disciplines. You can review the Directory of Open Access Journals or search for them in Ulrich’s, and then review the titles’ impact factors using three different measures.

Are these the only significant myths out there about Open Access?

No. For more examples, see BioMed Central’s (Mis)Leading Open Access Myths.


Attribution: This review of the common myths surrounding open access is reused from Dispelling Myths about Open Access  thanks to a  Creative Commons license.

© 2024 New York Institute of Technology