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The purpose of this guide is to provide resources and information to the UMass Medical School community about open access and new models of scholarly publishing.
Last Updated: Sep 10, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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What Is Open Access?

"Open access" is free, unrestricted, online access to scientific and scholarly research.  There are two primary vehicles for providing open access: open access journals, and open access archives or repositories, such as eScholarship@UMMS. 

The purpose of this guide is to provide resources and information to the UMass Medical School community about open access and new models of scholarly publishing.

Read A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access, by open access advocate Peter Suber.


PhD Comics Explains Open Access

8-minute animated video explaining open access and why it's important, from PhD Comics


Facts and Figures (as of September 11, 2013)

Facts & Figures

(Inspired by Heather Morrison's Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series)

DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals

  • 9,906 journals
  • More than 1.5 million articles are now searchable in DOAJ

DOAB: Directory of Open Access Books

  • 1512 academic peer-reviewed books from 50 publishers

OpenDOAR, the Directory of Open Access Repositories

  • 2407 academic open access research repositories

PubMed Central (PMC)

  • 2.8 million free full-text biomedical and life sciences articles are archived in PubMed Central

Public Library of Science (PLOS)

  •  In 2012 PLOS ONE published over 23,000 articles, up from just under 14,000 in 2011

BioMed Central

  • UMMS authors have published 243 articles in BioMed Central journals

Internet Archive (data from March 2013)

  • 1,160,507 movies
  • 113,232 concerts
  • 1,546,888 audio recordings
  • 3,911,095 texts

Wikimedia Commons

  • 18,357,357 freely usable media files

NIH Public Access Update

NIH logo

NIH Steps Up Enforcement of Public Access Policy

On November 16, 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it is tightening enforcement of its policy requiring that investigators deposit copies of their papers in a public archive. Starting as soon as next spring, researchers who haven't complied will not receive the next installment of their grant.  Read more:

Read ScienceInsider article

Read NIH formal policy announcement


In the News

Open Access Website Gets Tough

(Nature News, August 6, 2014)  The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has tightened its listing criteria to weed out rogue or "predatory" journals.

Interview with Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories

(Open and Shut? Blog, May 4, 2014)  Richard Poynder's extensive interview with Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR).  Shearer believes that any investment made in OA repositories today will more than pay for itself in the long term.

FIRST Act Severely Undermines U.S. Public Access Policies

(SPARC, March 12, 2014)  "Earlier this week, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) introduced the H.R. 4186, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act....Among many troubling provisions, the bill includes language on public access that SPARC strongly opposes.  The language, contained in Section 303 of the bill, would impose significant barriers to the public’s ability to access the results of taxpayer-funded research, be a step backward from existing federal policy in the directive, and put the U.S. at a severe disadvantage among our global competitors."


Why Open Access?

Video: How Open Access Empowered a 16-Year-Old to Make Cancer Breakthrough ... An interview on Open Access to research journals with Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, and Jack Andraka, the 16-year-old inventor of a breakthrough cancer diagnostic and winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

  • More knowledge leads to better patient outcomes. Opening access to research will allow all doctors access to relevant information for decision making, leading to more effective treatments and better outcomes.  Access to medical research is also crucial for patients and patient advocates.
  • Improved education.  Faculty and students will not be limited by the selection of scholarly journals their campus libraries are able to provide.

"A Story to Tell": Read this short piece that tells the true story of a physician's efforts to nationally distribute an operating room checklist that could potentially save thousands of lives - complicated by the fact that the authors had signed over their copyrights to a publisher.

"Why I Don’t Care About Open Access to Research—and Why You Should": systems biologist explains why researchers should care about open access in light of the changes taking place in science publishing. (Pacific Standard, January 31, 2014)


In the News - Archives

Microsoft Research adopts Open Access policy for publications

(Microsoft Research Connections Blog, January 20, 2014)  Microsoft Research recently committed to an Open Access policy for their researchers’ publications: "Microsoft Research is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible because we recognize the benefits that accrue to scholarly enterprises from such wide dissemination, including more thorough review, consideration and critique, and general increase in scientific, scholarly and critical knowledge."

Half of taxpayer funded research will soon be available to the public

(Washington Post, January 17, 2014)  Proponents of the open access model for academic research notched a huge victory Thursday night when Congress passed a budget that will make about half of taxpayer-funded research available to the public.

Open Access 2013: A Year of Gaining Momentum 

(Scientific American "Absolutely Maybe" blog, December 26, 2013)  A round-up of important developments in Open Access in 2013.

Digital Commons Community Tops One Million Open Access Full-Text Objects 

(DC Telegraph blog, December 18, 2013)  Libraries using the Digital Commons repository software – including the Lamar Soutter Library's eScholarship@UMMS repository -- have together collected more than 1 million open access full-text items such as dissertations, journal articles, posters, etc.  You can search across most of these items using the Digital Commons Network.

Nobel winner declares boycott of top science journals 

(The Guardian, December 9, 2013)  Randy Schekman, a US biologist who won the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine this year,  says his lab will no longer send papers to Nature, Cell and Science as they distort the scientific process.

Oppose Section 302 of the proposed FIRST Act (SPARC, November 15, 2013)

A discussion draft of the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act of 2013 (FIRST) currently being circulated would impose significant barriers to the public’s ability to access to taxpayer funded research by restricting federal science agencies’ ability to provide timely, equitable, online access to articles and data reporting on the results of research that they support.

eScholarship@UMMS reached 1/2 million full-text downloads on October 20, 2013!  Read the blog post about this milestone.

The Lamar Soutter Library and UMass Medical School celebrated international Open Access Week on October 21-27, 2013 with events on redefining research impact and altmetrics.  Thanks to all who attended! 

Open Access Journal Editor Wins Nobel Prize in Medicine (Chronicle of HIgher Education, Wired Campus, October 7, 2013)

Randy W. Schekman, a professor in the department of molecular and cellular medicine at the University of California at Berkeley who is one of three winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, is also an influential proponent of open-access scientific publishing as the editor in chief of eLife, an open access, scientist-driven journal founded in 2011.

Truly open data at BioMed Central (BioMed Central blog, August 21, 2013)

The Creative Commons CC0 waiver will become part of the BioMed Central Copyright and License Agreement on Tuesday 3rd September. For articles submitted from this date, CC0 will apply to data in all articles published by BioMed Central or Chemistry Central journals.

University of California adopts open-access publishing policy  (Nature News Blog, August 3, 2013)

The faculty of the University of California (UC), the largest public research university in the world, have adopted an open-access policy in which they commit to make their research articles freely available to the public.

NIH sees surge in open-access manuscripts  (Nature News Blog, July 2, 2013)

Last November, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) said that “as of spring 2013″ it would start cracking down on enforcing its public-access policy — and it seems the agency is now seeing positive results.

Universities and Libraries Envision a ‘Federated System’ for Public Access to Research  (Chronicle of Higher Education, June 7, 2013)

As federal agencies scramble to meet an August 22 deadline to comply with a recent White House directive to expand public access to research, a group of university and library organizations says it has a workable, higher-education-driven solution they call the Shared Access Research Ecosystem (SHARE).

 "The Future of Publishing": This Nature special issue () looks at the transformation taking place in scientific publishing.  

OSTP logo

Important News!  On February 22, 2013, the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a directive to Federal agencies with more than $100 million in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research -- both publications and research data -- publicly available free of charge within 12 months of publication. This development represents years of work by librarians and other advocates. More than 65K people signed an online "We the People" petition about this issue.  This directive complements the FASTR (Fair Access to Science and Technology Research) Act recently introduced in both houses of Congress.  Read more:

Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research


Now on Twitter



"Green" Open Access:  Depositing your publication in an open access repository, such as eScholarship@UMMS ("self-archiving")

"Gold" Open Access:  Publishing in open access journals

"Hybrid" Open Access:  An option now offered by many traditional publishers where an author can pay a publication fee to make an article open access. 

Embargo:  A fixed delay between the time a publication or data is deposited into a repository and the time it is made public

Version Terminology:  Here are generally accepted definitions for a journal article in its various versions as it moves through the publication process:

  • Pre-print: Version first submitted to publisher, before peer review
  • Post-print:  Final version after peer review, AKA "accepted manuscript".  This is the version mandated in the NIH public access policy and in most institutional open access mandates.
  • Publisher's version/PDF:  Copyedited version with publisher's formatting and paging

Open Access for the Deeply Confused

Science Groupie's excellent blog post explaining open access.

Open Access for the Deeply Confused


Students and Open Access

The Right to Research Coalition (R2RC), a student organization formed in 2009 with nearly 7 million members, has published a student guide to open access publishing: “Optimize Your Publishing, Maximize Your Impact.”  This resource presents students with the ways in which they can make their research openly available for the widest possible readership and lays out the benefits of doing so – both as authors and as readers. This is a great resource for student authors.

Also check out Three Things Students Can Do Now to Promote Open Access from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


Copyright and Scholarly Communications Services and Support

Please refer to our other guides for specific information about:


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