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Open Access and Scholarly Communication: Open Access Defined

What is Open Access?

Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of scholarly content, coupled with the rights to use the content fully in the digital environment.

Open Access can be achieved in different ways:

  • Open Access Publishing - Authors can choose to publish their work in a growing number of online journals that meet the full definition of Open Access.  Articles are free to all interested readers, and the publisher places no financial or copyright barriers between the readers and the article.  Open Access publishing is the fastest growing segment of the scholarly publishing market, and journal options are now available for nearly every area of research.
  • Digital Repositories - Authors can choose to deposit their research into digital archives (often called Digital Repositories or Institutional Repositories) which allow readers to freely access and fully reuse the content.  Most colleges and universities maintain an institutional repository for faculty and student research output.
  • Effectively Managed Author Rights - Scholarly authors have the ability to ensure that their work can be accessed and used by the widest possible audience.  Tools such as Addenda to traditional Copyright Transfer Forms are readily available, proven resources that can help authors understand open licenses and publish under open access conditions.
  • Local, National, and International Open Access Policies - Institutions that support research, from public and private research funders to higher education institutions, can implement effective policies that support making Open Access to scholarly research articles the default mode for their researchers. [1]

Why Open Access (OA)?


  • Improves the visibility and impact of research.
  • Provides immediate and free access to the literature needed for research.
  • Enables the author more control over how publications are used.
  • Gives the tax-payer access to federally funded research. [1]


Assumption College. (2017). Overview. In Open Access & Scholarly Communication (LibGuide). Retrieved from

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