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Open Access

This guide is to help UNLV authors learn about open access, article processing charges (APCs), avoiding predatory publishers, and open access policies.


Introduction to Open Access

Open Access refers to publications that are free to anyone with an internet connection. This includes the rights to view, read, download and build upon the work being read.  There are variations in open access publishing, however. For example, the work may be made freely available to find and read, but not to re-use.  The most common types of open access include journals that provide access to readers (no subscriptions) but which receive sponsorship or support through charges to authors instead.  Repositories, often institutionally or disciplinary based, provide a space for scholars to deposit their research articles in an online, central database freely accessible to anyone.

Good open access practices offer the following:

  • Peer-review processes and other quality control measures
  • Unrestricted access to all readers, thus increasing visibility and potential impact of the work
  • Discoverable and accessible to everyone in scholarly indexes and search engines such as Google Scholar
  • Copyright remains with the author(s)
  • Conformity with federal law requiring that research conducted using NIH funds and grants from other agencies be made freely available


Definitions of Common Open Access Terms:

Article Processing Charges (APCs): APCs are paid by authors (often through grant funding). They are used by open access journals in lieu of subscription fees to support the cost of publishing and may generate revenue for the publisher.

Diamond Open Access: Journals receive financial support from institutions or other sponsors and do not charge a fee to readers or authors. Also referred to as Platinum Open Access.

Embargo: A period of time set by the publisher in which an academic article cannot be deposited into an institutional or other open access repository.

Green Open Access: An author publishes their article in a pay-to-access journal, and then is able to self-archive a version of their work in an open access repository or author website.

Gold Open Access: An author publishes their article in an open access journal, where anyone can access all the articles in the journal for free.

Hybrid Open Access: A journal or publisher that is primarily pay-to-access, but offers authors the option to pay to publish their individual articles as open access.

Predatory Publishers: Predatory publishing is an exploitative academic publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals.

Publisher Policy: Publishing companies often have policies related to where and when authors can share versions of their articles.

Paywall: A paywall is a virtual "wall" behind which journal articles exist that someone must pay a fee to access. For researchers affiliated with an academic or research institution, this fee is often paid for by the institution in a subscription-based model. 

Pre-Print: A draft of an academic article as submitted for peer review.

Post-Print: The final draft of an academic article after peer review but before copy-editing.

Publisher Version/PDF: The version of an academic article that is formatted for publication in a journal and/or online.

Repository: Institutional, governmental, disciplinary or other archive that hosts scholarly research.

Working paper: Working papers are similar to pre-prints, in that they are a draft version of a publication and have not undergone formal peer review. When posted online, they may provide an opportunity for the author to received feedback.

Looking for more open access definitions?

Take a look a the Open Access Vocabulary (PDF) published by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

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