Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access: A Bibliography
A Short Introduction to Open Access

Open access deals with free access to and reuse of scholarly works. To date, it has primarily been concerned with scholarly journal articles; however, digital books, electronic theses and dissertations, and research data have been of growing concern. Interest in digital books has been increased by mass digitization projects, especially Google Books. Not all works in Google Books are open access; however, it is of interest because it contains a significant number of freely available digital books and it has been an important catalyst in the area of mass digitization.

There are two types of open access. Gratis open access means that a scholarly work is free of charge.1 Libre open access means that a scholarly work is free of charge and some or all restrictions on its reuse, such as translating it, have been removed. Open licenses are often used to grant users rights to reuse libre open access works. For example, the Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License for the journals it publishes.

There are two major open access strategies.2 Open access journals publish articles (typically peer reviewed articles) that are free of charge and, depending on the journal, may be able to be reused under an open license. Self-archiving involves authors (or librarians acting for authors) depositing of journal articles (or other works) in digital depositories. These are free of charge, and, depending on the copyright holder (author or publisher), may be able to be reused under an open license.

are typically prepublication versions of articles. An e-print is often the final author version of an article that has been accepted by the journal before final editorial changes have been made. However, depending on the copyright holder, an e-print may be the final published version of the article.

Authors self-archive on personal websites, departmental websites, departmental digital archives, disciplinary archives, and institutional repositories. A disciplinary archive is a global digital repository that contains (and possibly other kinds of works) that deal with one or more scholarly disciplines. An institutional repository is a digital repository specific to a single institution that contains diverse types of digital works that deal with all of the disciplines associated with that institution. Institutional repositories typically use either specialized open source software, such as EPrints, DSpace, or Fedora, or are hosted on remote servers for a fee, such as the Digital Commons. A computer protocol known as OAI-PMH allows metadata (descriptive information) about works in digital repositories to be harvested (i.e., automatically retrieved).

While open access works are freely available, they are not free to produce or make accessible.3 Consequently, an important issue is how to pay for making open access works available. For example, some open access publishers charge authors fees to publish articles (these fees may be waived if the author cannot pay), others rely on subsidies from sponsoring organizations, such as universities.

There is a growing trend for universities, funding organizations, and governments to mandate in formal policies that articles created with their funding or subsidy be made open access. In some cases, universities may suggest, rather than require, that this be done in open access policies.

While traditional publishers have been understandably concerned about the impact of open access on their business models, an increasing number of them are offering some type of open access option. Some publishers have completely converted to a full open access business models, and some new publishers have been established using one. Some traditional publishers have also made special arrangements to provide open access to fee-Based works to scholars in developing countries.


1. Peter Suber, "Gratis and Libre Open Access," SPARC Open Access Newsletter, no. 124 (2008).

2. Budapest Open Access Initiative, "Budapest Open Access Initiative," 14 February 2002,

3. Peter Suber, "Open Access Overview: Focusing on Open Access to Peer-Reviewed Research Articles and Their Preprints,"