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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: May 6, 2016 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


Dr. Hong Yu on Open Access


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.


Why Open Access?

Better visibility and higher impact for scholarship.  Research has shown that articles available freely online are more often cited and have greater impact than those not freely available.  

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.

Return on the public's investment in taxpayer-funded research.  Open access allows the public to see the results of that investment.

To help achieve science's full potential by removing price barriers.  With open access, researchers worldwide can read and build on the findings of others without restriction.

Improved education.  Faculty and students will not be limited by the selection of scholarly journals their campus libraries are able to provide.


Scan this September 2015 Twitter conversation about why we need open access ... "raise your hand if you've ever wanted to read an article you couldn't access."



Green box

"Green" Open Access:  Depositing a scholarly publication for public access in a repository other than that of the publisher, e.g. an institutional repository or a discipline-related repository such as eScholarship@UMMS or PubMed Central (also called "self-archiving")

Gold box

"Gold" Open Access:  Publishing a scholarly article in a peer-reviewed journal with open access, sometimes financed through article publication charges.

"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, also known as the "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

See also the VERSIONS Toolkit, which has practical advice for academic researchers as authors. 


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.



Lisa Palmer, MSLS, AHIP
Institutional Repository Librarian

Rebecca Reznik-Zellen, MA, MLIS
Head of Research and Scholarly Communication Services


Open Access Without Tears

"Open Access Without Tears" (Inside Higher Ed, 8 October 2015)

Clear, concise, and helpful blog post by Barbara Fister explaining open access and how academics can participate.


Facts and Figures (as of September 30, 2014)

Facts & Figures

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

DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals

  • Over 10,000 journals from 135 countries
  • More than 1.7 million articles are now searchable in DOAJ

DOAB: Directory of Open Access Books

  • Over 2,200 academic peer-reviewed open access books from 70 publishers

OpenDOAR, the Directory of Open Access Repositories

  • 2700 academic open access research repositories

PubMed Central (PMC)

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

Public Library of Science (PLOS)

  •  53 Nobel laureates as authors, through 2013 (more stats available in their 2014 progress update)

Internet Archive 

  • 430 billion web pages, 1.7 million videos, 133,000 concerts, 2 million audio recordings, 6.5 million texts

Wikimedia Commons

  • Over 23 million freely usable media files

Research and Scholarly Communication Services Support

Please refer to our other guides for specific information about:


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