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Open Access

Open Access Explained

In a nutshell, “Open Access” enables researchers the world over to freely access and distribute the results of scholarly research via the Internet.

Under traditional publishing models, the publisher owns the distribution rights to articles in their journals, and charges readers for access to that content. They can do so either by collecting subscription fees directly (many of which cost an institution thousands of dollars per year), or by bundling their content as part of a database subscription (which cost even more). This makes sense in a print-only world, where each subscriber to a journal represents the publisher’s increased costs for distribution and production. However, when one considers the ease, speed and low cost of publishing research online, the old publishing model hinders modern scholarship. Institutions or researchers that are unable to pay don't gain access, which limits the ability of underfunded researchers around the world to participate in scholarly discourse.

Open Access and GU Scholarship

As more and more universities, funding agencies, and publishers adopt open access policies, it is essential for researchers and authors to comprehend and successfully navigate these changes to the scholarly landscape. Fortunately, Georgetown researchers have a number of resources available to them to leverage and produce open access content.


DigitalGeorgetown is home to Georgetown University Library's online institutional repository. Thousands of faculty publications, reports, theses, dissertations and other scholarly works by the Georgetown community are available online through DigitalGeorgetown, and researchers all over the planet have used the repository to support their scholarship. With thousands of visitors each month and a dedicated library team offering support and development, it's one of the easiest platforms for Georgetown researchers to use to release content as Open Access.

Faculty and departments interested in submitting their works for inclusion in the library should contact the DigitalGeorgetown team via email.

Scholarly Communication and Copyright Resources

Researchers are encouraged to visit the Library's Copyright at Georgetown University page, and take advantage of the resources available there, such as using an author's addendum when signing publisher agreements, choosing publishers with expansive copyright policies or releasing your work under Creative Commons licensing.

Open Access Week - October 21-27, 2013

Georgetown University Library, in partnership with the Law Library, Bioethics Research Library and GU Press, participated in Open Access Week 2013, a worldwide event to raise awareness of the benefits of open access throughout the research community.

Faculty, students and researchers joined us in the Murray Room on October 23rd at 11:00 AM for a lecture on Open Access delivered by Dr. Rebecca Tushnet of the GU Law Center, followed by a librarian-led panel discussion of the objectives of Open Access, its implications for publication of research and the resources Georgetown University Libraries offer to support open access self-archiving. For more information on Open Access Week's goals, please visit SPARC’s Open Access Week page.

Open Access Week Speaker - Rebecca Tushnet

Professor Tushnet speaks at Georgetown's Open Access Week 2013 event.Professor Tushnet has taught at Georgetown since 2004. Previously, she was on the faculty at New York University School of Law; worked at Debevoise & Plimpton in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in intellectual property; and clerked for Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia and Associate Justice David H. Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Professor Tushnet graduated from Harvard University in 1995 and from Yale Law School in 1998. Her publications include “Worth a Thousand Words: The Images of Copyright Law” (Harvard L. Rev. 2011); “Gone in 60 Milliseconds: Trademark Law and Cognitive Science” (Texas L. Rev. 2008); and “Copy This Essay: How Fair Use Doctrine Harms Free Speech and How Copying Serves It” (Yale L.J. 2004). She is the head of the legal committee of the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and promoting fanworks. She is also an expert on the law of engagement rings.

Open Access Week Partners

GU Library

The Georgetown University Library is an agile organization that respects the heritage of the past while anticipating the requirements of the 21st century. By providing preeminent services, collections and spaces, the Library shapes the creation of knowledge, conserves culture for posterity, and transforms learning and research.

Bioethics Research Library

The Bioethics Research Library at Georgetown University began as a few shelves of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics’ scholars’ books. As the interdisciplinary field of bioethics grew, so did the library. It now includes more than 30,000 books, journals, audiovisuals, and archival materials on a wide range of topics, materials written in over 20 languages, and a diverse range of opinions expressed on bioethical issues around the world.

Georgetown University Law Library

The mission of the Georgetown University Law Library is to support fully the research and educational endeavors of the students and faculty of the Georgetown University Law Center, by collecting, organizing, preserving, and disseminating legal and law related information in any form, by providing effective service and instructional programs, and by utilizing electronic information systems to provide access to new information products and services.

Georgetown University Press

Georgetown University Press supports the academic mission of Georgetown University by publishing scholarly books and journals for a diverse, worldwide readership. These publications, written by an international group of authors representing a broad range of intellectual perspectives, reflect the academic and institutional strengths of the university.