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Scholarly Communication: Benefits of Open Access

What is Open Access

Open Access is...

...the process of removing barriers such as price (including subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission  (e.g. copyright and licensing restrictions), in order to enable free, online access to full-text information.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative states: "There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By 'open access' to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."

One of the most common questions we hear from faculty, researchers and students on our campuses during discussions about Open Access is: 

"Is there any evidence that making my article available though an Open Access channel will actually result in more citations for my work?"

This question has been examined in a growing number of studies, and our colleagues at SPARC Europe have complied a helpful new resource to provide up-to-date information on this important topic.  Building on the excellent groundwork provided by the JISC-supported "OpCit" project, SPARC EU has created an updated list of the 70 studies published to date examining Open Access and possible  citation advantages, along with a summary table that provides comparative details on the studies' methodologies and findings.

The new "Open Access Citation Advantage" resource can be found on the SPARC EU homepage, at:   We think you'll find this a very useful reference!

Benefits for Researchers

For researchers, OA

  • Increases readers’ ability to find and use relevant literature
  •  Increases the visibility, readership and impact of authors' works
  • Creates new avenues for discovery in the digital environment
  •  Enhances interdisciplinary research
  •  Accelerates the pace of research, discovery and innovation

Benefits for the Public

For the public, OA

  • Provides access to previously unavailable materials relating to health, energy, environment, and other areas of broad interest
  • Creates better educated populace
  • Encourages support of scientific enterprise and engagement in citizen science

Benefits for the Institution

For educational institutions, OA

  • Contributes to core mission of advancing knowledge
  • Democratises access across all institutions – regardless of size or budget
  • Provides previously unattainable access for educational institutions at primary, secondary and tertiary levels
  • Increases competitiveness of academic institutions
  • Enriches the quality of students' education
  • Ensures access to all that students need to know, rather what they (or their school) can afford
  • Contributes to a better-educated workforce

Benfits of Opening Access to your Scholarship


Australian Open Access Support Group

Source: Australian Open Access Support Group

Types of Open Access

There are two main ways to deliver open access to publications:

  • open access repositories ("green" OA)
  • open access journals ("gold" OA)

1. Green Self Archiving - authors publish in a journal and self-archive a freely available version of the manuscript in their institution's repository such as Appalachian States' NC DOCKS, or in a national repository (for example, PubMed Central).

2. Gold Publishing - authors publish in OA journals that provide free, immediate access to the articles via publisher web sites that may or may not carry author fees. The Public Library of Science (PLOS) is an example of a Gold publisher.


See SHERPA Romeo - a service summarising permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.  It uses the colour coding above to highlight publishers' archiving policies.

Social Sciences Librarian

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Allan Scherlen
Belk Library, Office no. 224
P.O. Box 32026
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608