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Office of Research Integrity

Open Access Publication

The purpose of this page is to provide insight into the Open Access publishing model. The ORI is aware there may be a lack of understanding by students and faculty regarding what the open access publishing model is. As a result, we hope the explanations, insight, and links below provide clarification.

Open Access publishing model refers to scholarly journal articles and research published online and free to the public to read. By making the content of the journal articles free to the public, Open Access publishers charge the authors/researchers for the peer-review process and editing services. The concept behind Open Access (OA) publication is to make academic and scholarly research as easily accessible as general information in the digital age.

Cost, Accessibility, and Prestige are the three primary areas the OA model differs from the Traditional Publishing model. Many traditional publishing houses offer open access options. One model is not better or worse than the other. Each publishing model has pros and cons. Understanding the differences and how these may impact access to an article is essential for current authors/researchers.

The traditional publishing model is funded by subscriptions. The money from these subscriptions fund the peer-review process, editing services, and production of hard copies of the publication. For a reader to access articles/research published in the traditional model, one must either pay for a subscription or pay a one-time access fee. Generally, full access to traditional publishing subscriptions is financially viable for universities and institutions. As a result, individuals employed by or attending these universities or institutions receive access to the publications. This can often mislead academics/researchers to believe the traditional publications are free. To be clear, this is not the case. For those without subscription access, the one-time access fee exceeds an individual's budget preventing them from reading the article/research. As a result, accessibility to traditional publications is confined to those with subscription access and limiting the audience.

OA in comparison is funded by the authors'/researchers. The authors/researchers pay the OA publisher for the peer-review process and editing services expected of scholarly publication. As a result, the reader has direct access to the article/research. All that is required of the reader is internet access. 

Prestige pertains to the reputation of the journal. Prestige can be described in many contexts. One context can refer to a journal's establishment in a field of study or the longevity of the journal. Prestige can refer to a journal's Index Factor, which measure the frequency an article is cited by other researchers in published articles. While traditional publishing house have established prestige over years of hard copy publication and sponsorship of academic discourse, many of these companies offer OA publishing options. OA does not mean of lesser quality. 

The purpose of the OA model is to make academic and scholarly research easily and readily available to all. Supporters claim the OA model is the evolution of publication to meet the capabilities and the needs of the 21st century. Open Access publishing companies list accessibility, knowledge development, and social wellbeing as primary benefits ( &

Within the OA model, there are various types. The differences between types of OA models may be consider small, but the specifics are important.

Gratis VS Libre

Gratis is free access with copyright and licensing restrictions. 

Libre is free access without copyright or licensing restrictions.

What does this mean?

Gratis and Libre address how an article and research can be used once published. This pertains to the copywrite of an OA published article. Both Libre and Gratis are free to a third party to read, but what can be done with the research in the article is different.

Libre is free access and unrestricted use. Libre allows third parties to read, download, re-distribute, re-publish, and re-use with the expectation of proper acknowledgement. The copyright of the article/research remains with the author/researcher. Libre allows other researchers to access, build off, and modify the original research.

Gratis is free access and restricted use. Gratis allows third parties to download and read. Gratis does not allow third parties to re-distribute, re-publish, or re-use the article/research. The copyright of the article/research is with the publisher. Gratis provides the publisher as a safeguard against plagiarism, while allowing others to freely read the article/research.

Gold VS Green

Gold is freely accessible in an OA publication's database. These are the final published versions of a manuscript with peer-review and editing services. The publication fees are paid by the authors/researchers.

Green is freely accessible by the author in a public database. These are often pre-published manuscripts and posted by the author/researcher. Publication fees do not apply, and as a result, have not been peer-reviewed or received professional editing services.

What does this mean?

Gold is free access through OA publisher databases. Gold offers all the benefits of the traditional publication model, plus the speed of digital publication of the OA model. Access to the article is available from the OA publication website. Authors/researchers are required to pay for the services associated with the traditional publication model in order to have the work published. Gold access places copyright and licensure with the publishing house.

Green is free access through a public database and is also called self-archiving. Green allows for instant availability via blog, institution/subject database, or another website. Access to the article is available from these websites. Authors/researchers are not required to pay any publication fee and do not have the benefit of publishing house peer-review or editing services. Green access is not protected under publishing house copyright and licensure.