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Open Access

What is Open Access (OA)?

Open Access (OA) is the practice of providing unrestricted online access to published and peer-reviewed research, made available free of charge to the reader – to share and re-use without financial, legal or technical barriers (other than access to the Internet).

What is Open Access not?

  • OA is not an attempt to bypass peer review. It is compatible with and insists on the importance of all peer review.
  • OA is not an attempt to violate or abolish copyright. It is compatible with copyright law. OA depends on author consent.
  • OA is not costless, although it is less expensive than traditional publishing.
  • Authors are free to publish with the journal / publisher of their choice.
  • OA does not make plagiarism easier, in fact, it becomes more difficult because the content is indexed and available.

Types of Open Access

Gold open access: publishing in OA journals where the article is freely and openly available from the time of publication.

Green open access: making a version of the published article available in a repository like KovsieScholar. The version depends on the publishers' sharing policies. Sometimes we're allowed to archive the final, published version to KovsieScholar, and sometimes we're only allowed to archive a post-print.

Open Access and copyright

Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP) defines OA: "Open Access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions." This does not mean that copyright is lost or given away. In fact, OA publishing is based on legally open licenses where the author(s) retain copyright and specifies permitted uses. Open licenses, like Creative Commons licenses, are more aligned with academic freedom than traditional copyright where authors mostly sign away copyright to publishers.

Czerniewicz L. & Goodier S. 2014. Open access in South Africa: A case study and reflections. South African Journal of Science. 110(9/10). DOI:dx.doi.org/10.1590/ sajs.2014/20140111