Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
lnss logo

Open Access: Open Access Policies & Publishing

A Brief History and Explanation

The launch of the internet nearly 30 years ago allowed for the development of the concept of open access. Early open access initiatives included the launch of the online subject repository arXiv in 1991, the publication of several free, peer reviewed online journals in the early 1990s, and the development of the National Institute of Health's repository PubMedCentral in 2000. Then, in 2002 and 2003, three distinct meetings took place in Budapest, Berlin and Bethesda which gave rise to a formal and still globally accepted definition of "open access." The widely accepted definition of open access literature is as follows: Open access literature is digital, online free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.1

Although costs for digital publishing can be lower than print publications, open access publishing is not free. Instead of charging the reader for access through purchase or subscription, alternative business models have arisen that provide the publishers with the financial means for providing access to scholarship. One cost recovery model is the implementation of article processing charges (APCs). These charges are paid by the author (who may get assistance from research grants, his university, or his library) prior to publication. Production costs can also be offset by the sale of memberships, add-ons and enhanced services by the publisher. In some cases, journals are fully subsidized by a sponsoring institution, funder or other organization without charging authors or readers. However, while open access publishing has the potential to reduce costs, this is not the only driving force behind open access advocacy. The benefits to individual scholars, related institutions, scholarly communication, and the general researching public are also primary motivating factors.

There are two primary routes in which open access literature can be published or otherwise made available. These two routes are frequently described as "gold open access" and "green open access.

  • Gold Open Access is when an author publishes in an Open Access Journal. The article is published in an open access journal that provides immediate open access to all of its articles on the publisher's website. The term "Hybrid Open Acess" is also sometimes used to describe an open access model where a journal provides gold open access only for those individual articles for which an open access publishing fee has been paid. A common misconception about open access publishing is that it is not peer reviewed. However, many open access journals adhere to the same strict review process as more traditional journals. Peer review is medium-independent, as relevant to online journals as to print journals. It can be carried out in cost effective ways with new supporting software and technologies.
  • Green Open Access is when an author archives a version of their work in an open access repository, irrespective of where it is finally published. After publication, author self-archives a version (peer-reviewed postprint) of the article for free public use in their institutional repository (IR), in a central repository (e.g., PubMed Central), or on some other open access website.

There are many ways2 that libraries and other institutions can support open access, ranging from simply providing information to enacting open access policies and establishing institutional repositories:

  • Preparing guides to open access 
  • Encouraging dialog about open access, e.g., through blogs/newsletters
  • Holding Open Access Week events to promote awareness
  • Endorsing statements on open access such as the Berlin Declaration
  • Establishing open access publication funds
  • Establishing institutional repositories
  • Establishing open access databases
  • Issuing open access resolutions and enacting open access policies
  • Purchasing institutional subscriptions that provide discounts on open-access publication fees
  • Negotiating open access agreements with publishers
  • Providing copyright advisory services to researchers
  • Providing assistance in the conversion of institution-based journals to open access journals
  • Forming academic centers devoted to scholarly publishing

1 This definition comes from Peter Suber, who is considered the foremost leader and expert on the topic. His Overview of Open Access is an excellent brief explanation of what open access publishing is and why it is an important initiative.
This list comes from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library Guide to Open Access


Open Access Explained!

CREDITS: Animation by Jorge Cham / Narration by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen/ Transcription by Noel Dilworth
Produced in partnership with the Right to Research Coalition, the Scholarly Publishing and Resources Coalition and the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students.

Office for Scholarly Communication director Peter Suber talks about open access.

Open Access Week

Open Access Week is an annual scholarly communication event focusing on open access and related topics. It takes place globally during the last full week of October in a multitude of locations both on- and offline. Typical activities include talks, seminars, symposia, or the announcement of open access mandates or other milestones in open access. 

Further Resources on the History of the Open Access Movement:

Further Reading

Tools and Presentations

  • SPARC Open Access Fact Sheet (PDF) Handout from SPARC
  • Open Access Directory A compendium of simple factual lists about open access to science and scholarship, maintained by the OA community at large.
  • Right to Research Coalition Resources Handouts, posters, and presentations from the Right to Research Coalition. Geared toward advocating open access to students.
  • Open Access in Action - Video Presentations Videos, along with other resources, that feature interviews with open access thought leaders and presentations on open access initiatives and projects.
  • Open Access Workflows for Academic Libraries Crowdsourced resource covering six areas in which libraries work on open access promotion, publishing, and other tasks. Intention is to create workflows to allow other libraries to develop messaging and projects at their respective institutions
  • Open Access Map Displays the locations of all types of OA-related initiatives, including funding policies, government documents, university mandates and so on. The Map can be used for OA education training and advocacy, including informing constituents about the progress of OA in simple, clear and easily usable ways.
  • SPARC Guide to Campus Open Access Funds Resources on this page are intended to provide vital information to institutions contemplating the creation of an open-access fund and institutions that are currently operating funds

How to Debunk Common Open Access Myths

Library Network Support Services Western Balkans Platform

LNSS LibGuides - Univerzitet Crne Gore - Centralna Univerzitetska Biblioteka