Open Access 101

Open Access (OA) literature is defined as being online, free of charge, and free from most copyright and licensing restrictions. Most often, the term is used to refer to articles in OA journals or OA repositories. The UCSB Library supports open access publishing as a way for faculty to retain the rights to their work and to distribute their work quickly and globally.

OA Journals (“Gold OA”)

As with many scholarly print journals, many open access journals are peer-reviewed. Peter Suber, a former philosophy professor at Earlham College and a long-time advocate of OA, compares open access to television or radio: production costs are paid up front by those who want to disseminate the content, which is then made available free of charge to those who wish to access it. To cover their expenses, OA journals sometimes receive a subsidy from a university or professional society, or they may charge a publication fee for accepted articles, to be paid by the author or author’s sponsor. The California Digital Library (CDL) and UC Libraries recently launched an OA Fund Pilot Program to help UC scholars with these author fees. To learn more about the fund at UCSB, visit the Library’s Scholarly Communication website or contact Sherri L. Barnes at barnes [at] library [dot] ucsb [dot] edu or (805) 893-8022.

OA Repositories (“Green OA”)

Traditionally, when authors sign publication agreements, they have been required to transfer their copyright and future rights to the publisher. This has resulted in a system whereby universities themselves are compelled to pay – sometimes at exorbitant subscription prices – to view and distribute published work by their own scholars.

OA repositories generally host articles that have been peer-reviewed elsewhere. A repository may include preprints (an article before its final, edited, published version) or postprints of journal articles, dissertations, and data files. The University of California’s eScholarship program, hosted by CDL, is an example of an institutional repository. Many disciplines have also created their own OA repositories, such as arXiv, PubMed, and the Social Science Research Network.

Because most publishers and journals now give blanket permission for self-archiving in repositories, the burden is on authors to take advantage of this opportunity. This means that authors may publish in nearly any journal that will accept their work (OA or traditional) and still provide a version of the peer-reviewed text to the public through an OA repository.

Surprisingly, the compatibility of green OA (self archiving) with publishing in traditional journals is still one of the best kept secrets of scholarly publishing. The UCSB Library hopes to change that.