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Open Access

What is Open Access?

Open access (OA) means making research publications freely available so anyone can benefit from reading and using research.

Open access can be more than making research available to read, but also allowing others to re-use that research. Research data and books are also increasingly made available openly.

Open access is part of a wider ‘open’ movement to encourage free exchange of knowledge and resources in order to widen access and encourage creativity.


SHB Online. (2019). What is Open Access? (subtitles) [Video].



Benefits of Open Access

Open Access can bring about various benefits:

  • More exposure for your work
  • Practitioners can apply your findings
  • Higher citation rates
  • Your research can influence policy
  • The public can access your findings
  • Compliant with grant rules
  • Taxpayers get value for money
  • Researchers in developing countries can see your work  

 Graphic of open access benefits

Kingsley, D., & Brown, S. Benefits of open access [Image].


Models of Open Access Publishing

When referring to OA publishing, there are two mainstream approaches, commonly referred as Gold OA and Green OA. The distinction between gold and green is only about venues, and not about user rights, or “fee or free”.

The two approaches are:

Green Open Access

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The author self-archives into his or her personal web page, departmental web page, or institutional repository, some version of his or her article (preprint, postprint, or published version).

Gold Open Access

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  • The publisher makes the works in open access in the journal. The journals may charge the author a fee - Article Processing Charge, APC - so that the article is published OA.
  • The green and gold approaches can co-exist. Other conditions may or may not also be involved, such as embargoes, permission statements, etc.


Some other approaches which may be of attention are:

Diamond/Platinum Open Access

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In this model, the authors, institutions, or funders do not pay an Open Access Fee and the readers do not pay to read. This is a ‘publisher-pays’ model and is usually offered by university presses where the costs of publication are subsumed within existing budgets and regarded as part of the mission of a university. This is an excellent model for Open Access.


Bronze Open Access

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  • In the Bronze model, no Open Access Fee is paid but the publisher chooses to make a publication freely available to read.
  • Many Open Access advocates and research funders do not regard Bronze as Open Access, because the publisher can stop the freely available publications at any time, whereas genuinely Open Access publications are under licenses which allow re-use.


Latest initiatives

  • ESAC
    • an open community of information professionals dedicated to putting the vision of open access to research into practice
  • OA 2020 
    • a global alliance committed to accelerating the transition to open access
  • Plan S
    • an initiative for Open Access publishing requiring that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms
  • RGC Publication Gateway
    • a gateway to discover information of refereed journal articles arising from research projects funded by Research Grants Council in Hong Kong


Contact Us

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