Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Open Access Primer

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) in scholarship helps provide free access to various types of scholarly information, usually found on the public internet. The symbol to the left signifies Open Access.

 Works published by Open Access publishers/platforms allows any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of research articles and data, crawl them for indexing, and  use them for any other lawful purpose; without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain is that authors have control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

Speak to a librarian about:

  • Open Access at Colby 
  • Publishing in an Open Access publication
  • The discourse and debates around Open Access and economy of information access

       ​​Contact: Darylyne Provost, Ana Noriega, Kara Kugelmeyer, Margaret Ericson and Marty Kelly (

Explore Colby's institutional repository that helps supports Open Access at Colby:

More on Open Access:

Benefits of publishing with an Open Access publisher/group/platform:

Benefits of Open Access


Explore Open Access Publishers , Platforms and Groips

Types of Open Access

Myths About Open Access

MYTH:  Open access publishing hurts existing models of scholarly publication and undermines authorial copyright.

Open Access respects and follows U.S. Copyright law. In fact, traditional scholarly journals typically ask authors to sign an agreement that transfers all aspects of ownership and copyright to the publisher, so authors retain no rights to re-use or distribute their own work. Open Access journals allow authors to retain their rights. There are also many different "flavors" or kinds of open access. One is green open access, where authors can still publish in the closed journal of their choice but negotiate their self-archiving policy so that an open access version of the work exists.

MYTH:  Open Access journals are not scholarly, are not peer-reviewed

Most Open Access journals are peer-reviewed with the same or higher standards as traditional scholarly journals. In fact, OA publications may have more of an impact because of the broader dissemination and increased access provided through Open Access. Additionally Open Access publications often show greater levels of citation, an important impact factor that is still considered for tenure and promotion. The overall goal of open access is to make information more accessible, addressing current inequities in academic access as well as encouraging professionals to research together without paywall obstacles. Using open access repositories to store your work ensures the security and preservation of your research, while publishing open access can often support authors in retaining their copyright.

MYTH: Open Access and Public Access are the same thing.

Public Access has become a requirement of certain funding agencies. The National Institutes of Health requires access to research that has been funded by its public monies. Access may be immediate or within a maximum embargo period.

Open Access, on the other hand, is a publishing policy that has been adopted by thousands of journals.

MYTH:  Only libraries benefit from Open Access since costs shift to authors and funding bodies.

There is no question that the high cost of traditional scholarly journals has stressed library budgets, but Open Access is not a solution to a budget crisis. The Open Access publication model fosters increased access to research information and promotes new scholarship and discovery. Broader access to information without the limitation of subscription constraints benefits people in the United States as well as in developing countries.

Colby College on Twitter Colby College on Facebook Colby College on YouTube Colby College on Vimeo Colby College RSS Feed Search Previous Next