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Open Access


Open Access (OA) is a publishing model that provides unrestricted online access to research publications.

“Open-Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions”.
Suber (2004)

On this page you will find information about:

  • what Open Access is
  • reasons for choosing Open Access
  • how to publish your work Open Access
  • how to archive your work in an Open Access repository
  • how to comply with Open Access policies

Main principles

Open Access stands for unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse of research publications. The main principles of Open Access are:

  • research publications are made available online to the public without any restrictions.
  • users have the right to read, download, copy, distribute, print, share and build upon the full-text.
  • the author retains the right to reuse his/her material.

There are two ways of achieving Open Access:

  1. Gold – publishing Open Access: Publishing in an open journal, book or open articles in traditional journals ensures that the final version is made available Open Access, usually with a licence that permits reuse.
  2. Green -archiving  Open Access: An alternative is to make available unpublished or peer reviewed publications in an open repository.

Choosing Open Access

Choosing Open Access can give you many benefits as a researcher:

  1. Impact: Studies indicate that Open Access publications are downloaded, read and cited more often than other articles (Swan, 2010).
  2. Collaboration: In projects with researchers from different institutions and countries, Open Access ensures that all project members have access to the same research output.
  3. Fast publishing: Open Access articles are electronic only, and therefore often published faster than other articles. Additionally, online archiving can ensure that early versions of articles are made available fast in subject fields that need to disseminate their research quickly.
  4. Copyright to own work: Authors keep the right to reuse their own work, and to give others the right to reuse.

Choosing Open Access also benefits users, research institutions and society as a whole:

  1. Accessibility: Everybody can read and use Open Access publications online. In today’s publishing system this is not always the case. Often only students and researchers affiliated to institutions that can afford to pay for subscriptions have access to the latest research.
  2. Democratic: An important principle in a democratic society is equal access to knowledge. Taxpayers pay for research through government grants. It is only reasonable that the public should have easy access to the research output.
  3. Full re-use rights: Scholarly work is licensed in a way that gives users the right to reuse. This enhances the possibility of interoperability, to build upon and make new tools and generate new knowledge from existing research.
  4. New knowledge: Discovery of new scientific knowledge happens faster with openness.
  5. Online archiving: Open access publications can be archived long term in institutional repositories. Online archiving also gives access to material that is not so easily accessible (e.g. master theses, PhD theses), and ensures accessibility to research publications in the future.
  6. Visibility: Research institutions will be able to collect and make visible their research output to internal and external users through their web pages and research systems.


You are a young researcher building your career, hoping that your latest research project will help you get a permanent position at your university. Is Open Access a publishing option for your article?

You are a part of a project in collaboration with a research group in Tanzania, and you know that your research will be of great interest to researchers in many African countries. Now you are going to publish your first article from the project. The journal that your supervisor recommends you to publish in has a high impact factor and will give your institution money through a system for counting research publications. However, the publisher demands that all rights to the article are signed away to them. The journal is subscription based, which means that institutions that cannot afford to subscribe to the journal will not be able to give their researchers access to the article.
One of your research contacts in Tanzania asks if you can publish in an open access journal instead. The open access journal is a new journal that has not yet gained an impact factor, but it lets you keep copyright and allows unrestricted access for users all over the world. The cost of publishing in the Open Access journal is 1200 US $.

In this instance: What do you do? Do you choose the traditional high impact journal or the open access journal? What influences your choice?

Publishing Open Access

Publishing Open Access gives readers unrestricted access to the final, published version of an article or book. The work is licensed in a way that permits reuse. Instead of paying for access through subscription, the most common method for paying for Open Access is through Article Processing Charges (APC) – the author pays to publish.

Two types of Open Access journals:

  1. Open Access only: The journal is Open Access – all the content is made openly available.
  2. Hybrid Open Access: Articles are published in traditional, subscription-based journals – authors pay extra to make the work available Open Access.

Open Access books:

The discussion about Open Access publishing has mainly been about journal articles, but why should there not also be Open Access to books? Although developments in Open Access have moved much faster within journal publishing, there is now an increasing number of book publishers that offer Open Access.

Open Access articles can be:

  • peer-reviewed – like any other articles.
  • quality improved through layout, proofreading, branding and added metadata – like any other articles.
  • cited by many and count in national research systems – like any other articles.
  • the most prestigious journals within their field: But since many Open Access journals are newer journals, they might not have built up the same prestige yet.
  • given an open license – in contrast to other articles.
  • available online for anyone to use – in contrast to other articles, which are only available through subscriptions.
  • either published without any costs for the author, or there is an article processing fee

Publishing step by step

  1. Does your institution or research funder demand that you make your work available Open Access? If so, what policies apply ?
  2. Be aware of the Open Access option already when you apply for grants, so that you can count the publishing costs into the total budget.
  3. Find an Open Access journal within your subject field. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) gives an overview of Open Access journals.
  4. Choose an Open Access journal with high impact factor or a journal that counts in national ranking systems if this is important within your research field.
  5. Does the journal have an article-processing charge (APC) – if it does, can you get support from your institution, funding body or project to cover the fee ? Some journals offer an automatic waiver on submissions for authors from low-income countries.
  6. If there is not an Open Access journal within your research field, consider publishing hybrid Open Access in traditional journals. An article-processing charge (APC) is paid to make the article Open Access. Can you get support from your institution, funding body or project to cover the fee?
  7. If Open Access publishing is not an option, publish in a journal that allows online archiving in a repository. Most journals will allow you to make a peer-reviewed copy of your article available online.

Where to publish Open Access ?

Open Access only: Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) gives an overview of Open Access journals in different subject areas.

Hybrid Open Access: Many traditional journals offer an option for publishing individual articles Open Access. Some examples are: Oxford Open, Springer Open Choice, Taylor & Francis Open Select.

Open Access books: Directory of Open Access books (DOAB)

You can find out what Open Access channels are approved in the Norwegian system for ranking publications by visiting the Norwegian Social Science Data Service

Archiving in open repositories

Open Access archiving, or self-archiving, means that you deposit your research publications in an online archive. Publications are made available online free of charge. Open archives do not perform peer reviewing, but they can contain copies of journal articles that have been peer reviewed elsewhere.

What about self-archiving books?

Publishers will often let copyright for books that are out of print go back to the author. You might have to ask the publisher for permission.

In addition, Open Access online repositories are used for making available research material that is not easily accessible through other channels, e.g. theses, working papers, conference papers and research reports.

There are different types of Open Access repositories:

Institutional repositories: These contain articles, theses and other types of research publications from the institution.

Diciplinary repositories: These contain research publications in one or more subject fields. Many of these repositories are pre-print archives, where researchers can make early versions of articles available in order to distribute findings fast.

There also exist repositories affiliated to funding bodies, scholarly communities and national or cross-institutional archives, who might establish their own repositories to ensure that research that they fund is made available online.

Why choose to archive your publications online?

Access: More people will have access to research articles, online books and unpublished material.

Searchable: The material is indexed by search engines, like Google and Google Scholar, as well as harvested by national and international databases and library catalogues.

Archiving: Open repositories ensure long term archiving and no broken links.

Visibility: Institutional repositories can collect, make visible and promote an institution’s research, while subject repositories can do the same within specific subject fields.

Online archiving step by step

  1. In some countries, for example in Norway and Denmark, it will be possible to deliver a full-text of your research publication when you register your work in the national research system. In Norway this system is called CRIStin, and in Denmark it is called PURE. The publications will be checked by library staff before they are made available online in an Open Access repository.
  2. If you do not have access to such a research system, you should find out if your institution has an institutional repository, or, alternatively, if there exists a subject repository within your field. If so, you should contact the repository manager. The repository manager/library will be able to assist you in steps 3-5.
  3. Do you need to clear copyright? You will usually have copyright to your own unpublished material, and will not need to ask for permission. Be aware that making available unpublished material and results can cause problems for further publishing in some journals.
  4. If you are planning to make available unpublished material that has co-authors you should ask their permission first.
  5. Check the publisher’s policy towards self-archiving in the SHERPA/RoMEO-database, publishers webpage or in the publishing contract. Usually publishers will own copyright to articles that they publish, and these articles have a licence that restricts re-use. Publishers might allow a version of articles to be made available online.
  6. Most Open Access articles can be archived without asking for permission because they use a Creative Commons open licence.
  7. If the publisher does not allow you to make available the published version online, you should keep your final accepted version of the article for self-archiving.

Versions of articles :

  • Pre-print – The manuscript version can either be a draft or submitted to a journal. Not peer reviewed. Most publishers will allow manuscript versions to be self-archived.
  • Accepted post-print – An article that has been accepted for publishing. This is the final version that the author sends to the publisher. It has been peer reviewed, but has not been through final proofreading and formatting. Most publishers will allow this version to be self-archived.
  • Published – The final formatted, published version. Most publishers will not allow this version to be self-archived.

Some journals have set an embargo period on self-archiving one or more versions of an article. Usually the embargo period will be 6, 12 or 24 months after publishing, depending on the subject area.

Where to archive Open Access?

Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe:
If you are a grant recipient from ERC or from FP7 you are required to deposit your publications into the open access institutional repository of the research institution with which you are affiliated. If you cannot find your institution your publications can be deposited in the OpenAIRE Orphan Repository

Institutional repositories in Norway:
If you are affiliated to a research institution in Norway, you can deposit your work in your institutions repository. Research articles can be deposited when you register them in the national research database, CRIStin.

Examples of institutional repositories in Norway:

For a full list of Norwegian repositories see the Norwegian webpage for Open Access  (in Norwegian). If you can’t find your repository on the list, contact your library.

Institutional repositories in Denmark:
If you are affiliated to a research institution in Denmark, you can deposit your work in your institution’s repository. Research publications are registered in the research database PURE, and here you can upload a full-text version of your publications.

Examples of institutional repositories in Denmark:

If you can’t find your repository on the list, contact your library.

For a full list over institutional repositories worldwide, see the Directory of Open Access Repositories (Open DOAR).

Disciplinary repositories:
An option can be to make available a version in a subject based repository. One example is In the Open Directory you will find an overview over disciplinary repositories.

Open Access mandates

Mandates for Open Access from governments, research councils and institutions will either demand that you:

  1. Make your research publications available in an Open Access repository (green Open Access)
  2. Publish your research Open Access (gold Open Access)

Mandates can also be a combination of the two options above.

You should find out what policy applies at your institution, or if the funder that has given you a grant has a policy that mandates you to make your research available Open Access. If you are co-authoring with researchers from other institutions or countries, they might have own polices that they have to comply with.

Find out what policies apply for you

The European Union:
Through Horizon 2020, The European Union will demand that all research they fund shall be made available Open Access, either through self-archiving in open repositories or publishing open access. Read more on openAire.

Examples of mandates in Norway:

Summary of Open Access policies in Norway (in Norwegian). Contact your research administration or library to find more about what policies apply at your institution.

Mandates in Denmark:
Open Access policy for public research councils and foundations in Denmark

For an overview of international policies and mandates see the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies (ROARMAP).

Funding for Open Access

Many funders and research institutions have established funds to pay for article processing charges (APC) in either Open Access journals, or sometimes, also to pay to make individual articles in traditional journals Open Access. You should find out if this is a possibility either at the research institution that you are affiliated to, or from the research organization that is providing you with a grant. If you do not have the possibility to receive funding, you should find out if any of your co-authors have funding to cover the charges to publish Open Access.

Find out if you can get your article processing charge covered

In Norway the following institutions offer funding for Open Access publishing to researchers and students affiliated to the institution:

If your research is funded by national research councils or international funding bodies, like the European Union (Horizon 2020), there is a chance that you can get your article processing charge covered as a part of the grant. Check the guidelines that accompany the grant, or the institution’s webpage.

Useful resources

Below we have listed some resources that can be used as tools when you wish to publish or self-archive Open Access. Other resources  give an overview over different aspects of Open Access that you might want to learn more about.

Creative Commons gives an overview over licenses that can be used to make your work Open Access.

Definition: The most used definitions of Open Access are written in the Budapest Open Access Initiative ( February 2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access (June 2003), and the Berlin Decleration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (October 2003). Organizations that commit to the the Berlin definition of Open Access can sign on to the declaration.

HowOpenIsIt? This guide helps you to understand the components that makes a journal Open Access and what makes a journal more open or less open. gives an overview of Open Access in Danish.

The Directory of Open Access Journals gives an overview over Open Access journals. The Directory of Open Access Books does the same for book publishing.

The Sherpa-RoMEO database gives an overview of publisher and journal policies towards self-archiving.


Suber, P. (2013). Open Access Overview.

Swan, A. (2010). The Open Access citation advantage: Studies and results to date: University of Southampton.

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