Understanding open access

Open access (OA) is free, unrestricted online access to research outputs, including peer-reviewed journal articles, conference papers, theses, scholarly monographs and research data.

If a journal article or other research output is open access it means that, by the consent of the author or copyright-holder, it can be freely accessed by anyone in the world using an internet connection.

Many research funders and institutions have official policies on open access and specific requirements for the authors they fund.

Open access is now a component of the next Research Excellence Framework (REF).

There are two main ways in which research outputs can be made open access.

‘Green’ open access

The University favours the green route to open access.  In this route, authors self-archive a version of their paper, usually in an institutional or subject repository. The paper may be kept under embargo for a period specified by the publisher. 

‘Gold’ open access

Publishers make the articles freely available to the public, usually for a fee called an article processing charge (APC).'

‘Hybrid’ open access

Publishers offer both the Green and Gold routes to open access. Authors will be asked to choose between arranging payment for a Gold open access APC, or free Green open access self archiving.

Contact us

Open Access team

Research Support Librarians
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