Open Access

Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open access (OA) refers to research outputs which are distributed online and free of cost or other barriers, and possibly with the addition of a Creative Commons license to promote reuse. Open access can be applied to all forms of published research output, including peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed academic journal articles, conference papers, thesis, book chapters, and monographs.

Academic articles (as historically seen in paper-based academic journals) have been the main focus of the movement. Conventional (non-open access) journals cover publishing costs through access tolls such as subscriptions, site licenses or pay-per-view charges. Open access research is advanced by a range of distribution mechanisms and business models. These include:

  • Self-Archiving - Green: After peer review by a journal, the author posts the same content the journal will be publishing to a web site controlled by the author, the research institution that funded or hosted the work, or which has been set up as a central open access repository.

  • Open-Access Journal: The publisher of the journal makes all articles and related content available for free on the journal's web site.

    • Open access journal funded by article processing charges paid by authors or research sponsor - gold

    • Open access journal funded by an academic institution learned society or a government information center (no publication fees are paid by authors) - platinum, diamond, or gold

    • Delayed open-access journals - provide open access after an embargo period, typically 6 to 12 months or longer

  • Hybrid open access journals at least partially funded by subscriptions, and only provide open access for those individual articles for which the authors (or research sponsor) pay a publication fee.

Advantages and disadvantages of open access have generated considerable discussion amongst researchers, academics, librarians, university administrators, funding agencies, government officials, commercial publishers, editorial staff and society publishers. Reactions of existing publishers to open access journal publishing have ranged from moving with enthusiasm to a new open-access business model, to experiments with providing as much free or open access as possible, to active lobbying against open access proposals. There are many publishers that started up as open access publishers, such as PLOS and BioMed Central.

This is an open-access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access.

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