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Open Access Toolkit: What is Open Access?

About this guide

This guide was developed by staff in Research Publication and Data Services in the UWA Library. In preparing this guide, information was gathered from numerous Open Access guides available in this area. Our thanks go to our colleagues in the Open Access community.

Under LibGuide agreements the material in this guide can be shared within the LibGuide community. The material may also be re-used for non-commercial purposes beyond LibGuides, however we would ask for acknowledgment and notification from the user.

Please note that The University of Western Australia is not responsible for the content of any external links within this guide.

What is Open Access?

In 2002, the Budapest Open Access Initiative initially communicated the principles of Open Access.

Open Access (OA) refers to the availability of Research Outputs via the internet, such that any user can find, freely access, read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, link, crawl, mine and otherwise use and reuse the Research Outputs both manually and using automated tools. Any use or reuse is subject to full and proper attribution, and usually will have an appropriate licence, such as any of the options available through the Creative Commons suite of licences, and should not infringe any copyrights to third-party material included in the Research Output.

A closely related movement is Open Data - the idea that research data and government data should be made freely available for sharing and reuse.

These different initiatives are now being drawn together under the banner of Open Knowledge, especially through the work of the Open Knowledge Foundation

Why make my work Open Access?

Why make my work open access?

  • The University of Western Australia supports the principle of Open Access by making publications available online within twelve months of publication through the UWA Profiles and Research Repository. UWA authors are responsible for depositing copies of their publications in accordance with this policy
  • Open access makes research results freely available to anyone with an internet connection rather than keeping those results hidden behind a subscription paywall.
  • Open access takes your research to a wider audience and makes it easier for other researchers to find and cite


How can I Publish Open Access?

If you wish to provide Open Access (OA) to your research, you have two options. These are commonly known as the 'Gold' and 'Green' routes.


  • Here the author publishes their work in an OA journal that allows immediate access to its articles on the publisher's website. BioMed Central is an example of an OA publisher.
  • There are various business models for OA journals.
  • Some journals have a hybrid model, whereby authors pay an article processing charge (APC) to publish their article as OA. This model is used by many major publishers.


  • Here the author first publishes their work in a journal of their choice, and then deposits, or 'self-archives', a version of the work in either an institutional or subject repository, making it freely available.
  • The version which can be deposited is specified by the publisher.

Advantages of the Green route:

  • You can still publish in the 'best' journal for your research.
  • You don't have to pay article processing charges.
  • Your research is more widely accessible.

OA can incorporate the same features as traditional scholarly publishing including peer-review of articles, copy-editing and quality assurance. The primary difference is that the publisher does not charge for access to the journal or other type of publication. Anyone can read, copy, print, download or link to the publication free of charge. 

The legal basis for open access is the consent of the copyright owner (or where the copyright term has elapsed – the notion of the 'public domain').

Within Open Access, there is a spectrum of 'openness' - some journals and publishers are more open, and some less open.

How to deposit

If your research output is eligible, please see the Support and FAQ page for advice on how to contribute to the UWA Profiles and Research Repository.

Open Access explained

For an introduction to OA, have a look at 'What is Open Access?' by phdcomics.