Answered By: Michael Hohner
Last Updated: Sep 22, 2016     Views: 92

Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

OA removes price barriers (subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission barriers (most copyright and licensing restrictions).

The PLoS shorthand definition —"free availability and unrestricted use"— succinctly captures both elements.

"Is it Open Access?", however, can be deceptively simple.

Open Access is not without copyright. Copyright still belongs to the creator of the work. Association with Creative Commons or other licences can attempt to provide some limits on use or control certain purposes (so it may not necessarily be free for all, though the ultimate goal of OA is to be as free as possible with permissions).

As OA eliminates price barriers to the end user (subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees), other sources need to be considered in order to sustain scholarly communication and the traditional publishing model and related costs. Author fees and article processing fees are frequently a consideration in making a publication cost free to the end user.

For a list of OA journals, visit the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Also, authors should consider depositing pre-published and appropriate versions of published articles (see SHERPA/RoMEO and your author agreement for guidance on published articles) in an institution repository (University of Winnipeg authors, visit WinnSpace) or a discipline-based or subject repository (e.g. In addition, before publishing your next article, authors should consider the SPARC Author Rights Initiative and consider signing the Addendum to Publication Agreement.

For more about Open Access, especially OA initiatives at the University of Winnipeg, contact Michael Hohner,, Head of Scholarly Communication.

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