Open access (OA), also known as public access, is a type of unrestricted access to scholarly publications that is online, free of charge to everyone and has limited copyright and licensing restrictions. Open access publications and policies have seen substantial growth amongst institutions, publishers and funders in recent years.
Here are some of the benefits authors get from publishing OA:
There are several different kinds of open access. The most common are green and gold. Green OA is where publishers allow authors to archive both the pre-print and post-print version of their article; this can be on a pre-print sever such as arXiv, or an institutional repository such as Los Alamos Authors or Los Alamos Research Online. Gold OA is where publishers, typically after payment of an additional fee known as an Article Processing Charge (APC), make the article immediately accessible online in its final published form. However, not all OA journals charge an APC for gold OA, and some journals will waive the APC for researchers in certain circumstances.
Other forms of OA include:
Peter Suber's Open Access is a primer for understanding OA. The book is available as an open access monograph and is updated on a regular basis.
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is the main directory for OA journals and is often transparent about the process of adding journals that meet their standards of open access and how they maintain a reputable collection of titles. The Directory of Open Access Books does the same for monographs, although it is not updated as often as the DOAJ.
SHERPA's OA services include information on publishers' copyright & archiving policies, including their OA policies, and access to links to OA-compliant repositories.
Springer's What Is Open Access? page provides a walkthrough of OA, including explaining article processing charges (APC), Creative Commons licensing, and where OA funding comes from.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy released the department open access plan (PDF), detailing how this would increase public access to DOE funded research. Any researcher funded by the DOE is now required to submit the relevant metadata and access to the full-text of their work to the Office of Science and Technology Information (OSTI), for hosting on OSTI's public access website.
In February 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memorandum titled "Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research." LANL's open access policy brings the Laboratory into compliance with the OSTP Memorandum and enables LANL authors to make readily accessible to the public all unrestricted scholarly publications resulting from research conducted by Laboratory workers.
The OSTP Memorandum applies to all US Federal agencies that fund research. The LANL policy applies to scholarly publications resulting from all unclassified research at LANL and is consistent with the DOE Public Access Plan and plans of other US Federal agencies and various other funding organizations.
Following LANL's open access policy requires submitting your research into RASSTI, the Research Library's tool for reviewing and approving scientific and technical reports and information. See the Review and Release of Scientific and Technical Information (PDF) on the process behind the review and release process, and how different levels of information are treated (e.g. technical information intended for limited controlled distribution vs intended for release on OSTI's website).
Benefits of following LANL's open access policy include:
According to the Plan S website, "Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018. The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funding and performing organisations. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms."
There are ten principles for the implementation of Plan S, which include retention of copyright by a work's author or their institution, OA publication fees not being paid by authors but by funders or research institutions, and that hybrid models of OA will eventually not be supported by the Plan S model.
For more information on coAlition S's plans for open access, see our blog post on Plan S, what is it and what it means for academic publishing.
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) "works to enable the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials in order to democratize access to knowledge, accelerate discovery, and increase the return on our investment in research and education".
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is the largest, curated directory of OA journals online, and adds new titles to its website on a regular basis.