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Open Access: Types of OA

Introduction to Open Access Resources and Information

Types of Open Access

There are many approaches to achieving the broad goal of open access (OA) to scholarly literature, largely because scholars, publishers, funders, and research organizations often have variant views regarding optimal functioning of the scholarly communication system.  That said, it is generally understood that there are three basic types of OA:

  • Green – refers to self-archiving of accepted (peer-reviewed) manuscripts in research repositories (such as the UofL's OPUS)
  • Gold – refers to articles published in freely available OA journals, which may or may not involve payment of article processing charges (APCs) to cover publication costs
  • Hybrid – refers to subscription journals that offer optional OA for individual articles when an APC is paid to the publisher or journal by the author, the author's organization, or the research funder. Examples of hybrid OA options include Open Select (Taylor & Francis), OnlineOpen (Wiley) and Sage Choice (Sage).

As APC fees (for paid Gold or Hybrid OA articles) can be quite expensive, some funding agencies treat APC fees as an allowable expense for successful grant applicants. For example, in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide, APCs are an eligible expense under Dissemination of Research Results. Note that the Tri-Agency introduced an Open Access Policy effective May 2015 that applies to published articles arising from Tri-Agency funded research.

To determine publishers' OA policies, search SHERPA/RoMEO for the journals to which you are considering submitting your unpublished article.  Keep in mind that not all journals are in SHERPA/RoMEO and because the database may not always contain current information, it is prudent to check the publisher's website as well.

SHERPA/RoMEO classifies publishers into colors for easy identification:

  • Green - refers to publishers whose policies allow archiving of pre-print and post-print or publisher's version/PDF
  • Blue - refers to publishers whose policies allow archiving of post-print or publisher's version/PDF
  • Yellow - refers to publishers whose policies allow archiving of pre-print
  • White - refers to publishers whose policies do not formally support archiving any version


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