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Detail from Sculling on the Potomac by J. Love, 1888. From the University Art CollectionBooth Family Center for Special Collections

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Introduction to Open Access

Open Access Overview

Open access publishing is an alternative to traditional publishing. All open access works share two characteristics: they are available online and are freely available to view by anyone with Internet access. In addition to being freely available for online viewing, the author of an open access work grants additional rights to the reader, such as allowing downloading, copying, printing, distribution, searching, and/or making derivative works without permission from the author. Removing price and access barriers to articles allows the broadest possible audience and reach for scholarly works, which could increase the visibility the works and their impact.

While open access can apply to a wide variety of works, including books, articles, images, video, and music, the movement has been particularly strong in the field of scholarly journal publishing. With scholarly journals, the authors, editors and reviewers are generally not paid for their works, so that they are not forgoing any compensation from making their works freely available on the Internet.

Two Types of Open Access

There are two broad categories of open access publishing:

    • Green Open Access allows authors of articles published in traditional subscription journals to self-archive their works in an institutional repository, such as DigitalGeorgetown, in a subject specific repository, such as PubMed, or on their personal web pages. Today, most subscription journals allow self-archiving with restrictions, such as embargoes and allowing only the accepted manuscript version of the article and not the published final version.
    • Gold Open Access journals are fully open access. All articles are immediately available to read and often have few or no restrictions on reuse. There is no embargo, and the published final version of the article is freely available. Gold open access articles may be published in fully open access journals or hybrid journals, which include both open access articles and articles available to subscribers only.

Read more about choosing open access publishing.

Benefits of Open Access Publishing

    • Works are freely available to all, including researchers and scholars in the developing world and others with limited or no access to a research library
    • Libraries save money by not paying subscription fees
    • Authors retain rights to their written works and decide what rights to grant for reuse
    • Articles have a broader reach which may lead to greater impact
    • Research is published and disseminated faster than with traditional publishing
    • Research, scholarship and knowledge can advance at a more rapid pace
    • Interdisciplinary research is enhanced and new ideas fostered when literature from many disciplines is freely available

Quality of Open Access Journals

Assessing the quality of an open access journal is important for researchers, scholars, and students in two respects:

    • if you are citing an article, you want to be sure it is reliable and authoritative
    • if you are publishing in a journal, you want to be sure it is reputable and will provide appropriate publishing services, including peer review

Georgetown's Open Access Initiatives

Read more about the Georgetown University Institutional Repository, the Library's open access initiatives, and faculty contributions to open access publishing.