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Open Access

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.

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. 

For some great overviews, we suggest:

Open Access Factsheet from SPARC

Open Access factsheet from SPARC

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: Author-created version first submitted to publisher, before peer review
  • Post-print:  Author-created 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. 

Dramatic Growth of Open Access

The Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series is a quarterly series (end of March, June, September, and December) of key data illustrating the growth of open access, with additional comments and analysis. The series was founded and has been maintained since 2005 by Heather Morrison, an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa's School of Information Studies.