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What is Open Access?

The term ‘open access’ refers to the removal of price and permission barriers to scholarly research. Open access means peer-reviewed academic research work that is free to read online and that anybody may redistribute and reuse, with some restrictions. (Eve, 2014).

Open access aims to make scholarly research available to wider audiences, including those beyond academia. It goes beyond making research freely available, however, and also usually involves making work available under less restrictive copyright licences.

Interest in making access to research more equal, and other potential benefits, was the original motivation for the open access movement, which was largely led by academic researchers.

More recently, governments, universities and research funders have taken an interest in encouraging open access. As a result, many researchers are now required to make their publications and/or research data openly available.

When you’re reading about open access you might encounter some unfamiliar terminology. If you’re not sure what the difference is between Gold and Green or you’re confused about embargo periods, see our useful open access glossary.

Further reading:
Eve, M. P. 2014. Open access and the humanities: contexts, controversies and the future.
Suber, P. 2012. Open access.