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Open access (OA) is a publishing practice that allows digital, online access to articles and book chapters free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
OA articles may either be published in open access journals, or, they may be be self-archived by the author in an open access repository like the University of California repository eScholarship, the Social Science Resarch Network, SSRN, or the Cornell University hosted arXiv.
OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance.
1. More readers. Open Access provides barrier free access to information. As library budgets around the world continue to shrink, fewer and fewer people will have access to articles that are only available to subscribers. Open access articles get read more.
2. Public good. Open access literature can be read not only by scholars at non-subscribing institutions, but by medical practioners, high school students, employees of private industry, taxpayers who may have helped fund it - anyone with an internet connection.
3. Shifting business models in the scholarly publishing industry. Scholars write and review articles for journals; journal publishers do not pay them for this work, but they do charge the scholars' institutions subscriptions - sometimes extremely expensive ones. For-profit publishers are still reporting operating profit margins between 30 and 45%, while campus budgets shrink. Meanwhile, nonprofit publishers are demonstrating great value, online publishing presents new technological possibilities, and authors are starting to pay more attention to the power they hold in the system. Open access is only one piece of the puzzle of a more efficient system, but it's an important one.
Use this site to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.
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