An open access journal is a scholarly journal that provides free and unrestricted access to its content. Open access journals are available online and apply permissive reuse licences to the articles they publish. These journals may or may not charge submitting authors, based on their business model.
Open access journals are scholarly publications that are made freely available online to anyone with an internet connection. They provide a platform for researchers to share their findings and discoveries with the world, without any financial or legal barriers. Most often, open access articles make use of Creative Commons licences.
Open access journals are typically peer-reviewed and published in a range of disciplines, from the life sciences to the humanities. They may be fully free to both authors and readers (diamond open access journals) or free to readers upon the payment of an article processing charge by the author, their institution or funder (gold open access journals). By making research freely available, open access journals help to ensure that knowledge is shared and disseminated widely.
Alongside fully open access journals, there are other forms of open access that make this landscape somewhat difficult to navigate. These are summarised in the table below, alongside some key features and whether the route can be considered as an open access journal:
|Route||Key features||Author pays?||Reader pays?||Open access journal?|
|Hybrid||Yes||Only open access articles in a hybrid journal are free to read and reuse||No|
It should be noted that many do not consider bronze as being open access, as articles made available via this route are not permanently and irrevocably available to reuse and access online. This also highlights the important difference between free to read (i.e. bronze) and open access content: the former is simply free to access online, with no possibility to reproduce, sell or modify that content, while the latter comes with permissive reuse rights, too.
- ALPSP. (2021). An Introduction to Open Access and Business Models [Video]. Youtube.
- Barnes, O. L. (2018). Green, Gold, Diamond, Black – what does it all mean?
- Becerril, A., Bjørnshauge, L., Bosman, J., Frantsvag, J. E., Kramer, B., Langlais, P-C., Proudman, V., Redhead, C., Torny, D., & Mounier, P. (2021). The OA Diamond Journals Study. Science Europe cOAlition S.
- Brock, J. (2018). ‘Bronze’ open access supersedes green and gold. Nature Index.
- cOAlition S. (n.d). Which licences are compliant with Plan S?.
- cOAlition S. (2021). Why hybrid journals do not lead to full and immediate Open Access.
- Jisc. (2019, October 17). An introduction to open access.