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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.

Contact Us

Sally Gore, MS, MSLIS
Manager, Research & Scholarly Communications Services

Lisa Palmer, MSLS, AHIP
Institutional Repository Librarian

Tess Grynoch, MLIS
Research Data & Scholarly Communications Librarian

Leah Honor, MLIS
Research Data & Scholarly Communications Librarian

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:

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.

"Openness increases transparency and reliability, facilitates more effective collaboration, accelerates the pace of discovery, and fosters broader and more equitable access to scientific knowledge and to the research process itself."
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Open Science by Design: Realizing a Vision for 21st Century Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

How to Make Your Own Work Open Access

There are 2 primary ways to make your publications open access:

1. Publish in open access journals.  See the Evaluating Open Access Journals page of this guide for more information and a list of Publishing Opportunities.

2. Deposit your publication in an open access repository, such as eScholarship@UMMS.  This process is called "self-archiving." Deposit your new works as you finish them. Deposit your older works retroactively. Follow these steps:

  • Check the journal's copyright policy for self-archiving (use SHERPA/RoMEO or search for information on the journal's website)
  • Identify an appropriate repository available to you (such as eScholarship@UMMS or a disciplinary repository)
  • Deposit your work (or have someone deposit it for you)
  • Consult your UMMS librarians for assistance with all these steps (see Contact Us information on this page)

Want to know more?

This infographic shows how researchers can make their work publicly available, free and legally.


What are preprints?

Preprints are research manuscripts that have not been formally published or refined/critiqued through the peer review process and are often deposited in preprint servers:

Preprint Resources
NIH Preprint Pilot (June 2020- )

During the pilot, NLM will make preprints resulting from research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) available via PubMed Central (PMC) and, by extension, PubMed. The pilot aims to explore approaches to increasing the discoverability of early NIH research results posted to eligible preprint servers. Pilot is running for a minimum of 12 months, starting June 2020.

Preprints can be submitted to the NIH as a product of award but do not fall under the NIH Public Access Policy since they are not peer-reviewed. If the manuscript is accepted for publication, the peer-reviewed manuscript will still need to be submitted through the NIH Manuscript System (NIHMS) by the publisher or author to receive a PubMed Central ID (PMCID).


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.