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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.

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Learn more about Open Access

History of the Open Access Movement:

This list is based heavily on a  guide prepared by the ACRL Scholarly Communications Toolkit Editing Team under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA) license.

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.

Orange open access unlocked padlock logo

Good open access practices offer the following:

  • The same peer-review process and other quality control (editorial board) as traditional models
  • Unrestricted access to all readers, thus increasing visibility and potential impact of the work
  • Discoverable and accessible to everyone through traditional 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.
  • Increased access to research and higher citations than traditional methods (The OA Citation Advantage - SPARC Europe)

Definitions of Commonly Heard 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.

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.

Diamond or Platinum Open Access: Open access journal supported by sponsors. Neither authors nor subscribers pay for journal publishing.

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.

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 before being submitted for peer review. Typically, the version first submitted to a journal.

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. Read more about UNLV's own repository

What is an Institutional Repository?

An institutional repository is an archive for collecting, preserving, and disseminating digital copies of the intellectual output of an institution, particularly a research institution. For institutions like UNLV, an institutional repository primarily contains scholarly outputs such as articles, conference presentations, posters, and more.

The primary purpose of Digital Scholarship@UNLV, and institutional repositories like it, is to make the full-text of works produced by scholars at a university freely available and discoverable to anyone with an internet connection. This ensures scholars, students, taxpayers, potential collaborators, and others can find and have access to the research they need or want, and in turn broadens the audience for authors, encouraging additional use of the work and citations to it.

Another purpose of a repository is to help institutions highlight the research and creative activities accomplished locally. Just as abstracting and indexing databases cover specific subjects (think of CINAHL, Engineering Village, or the MLA International Bibliography), Digital Scholarship@UNLV does something similar but is based on institutional affiliation rather than discipline. The library showcases the research at UNLV by entering records for scholarly and creative products reported in Digital Measures, by request from individual faculty members, and through citation database alerts. 

Many research institutions (how many?) have robust repositories, which hold open access copies of accepted manuscripts (post-prints) and in some cases, final published versions of articles. We encourage UNLV authors to share their research widely and  to ask us how to participate in Digital Scholarship@UNLV.

Examples of Open Access Publishers and Repositories

Preprint disciplinary repositories

Federal Agency Repositories (and mandates for public access)

Authorship of this Guide

This guide was created with content and resources from other guides (credited where applicable) and content created by Andrea Wirth, Scholarly Communication Librarian, Christina Miskey, Citation & Bibliography Assistant, and David Trillo, Scholarly Communication Library Technician.

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