Open access in academic publishing explained

I am often asked about open access and particularly about the difference between the green and gold models. While the aim of open access is to make freely available on the internet research articles and books for widespread use, the publishing models behind it are a little complicated.

We all know why access to scholarly research is so important:

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” (Newton)

What are the advantages of Open Access?

  • Global access
  • Global availability
  • Global exposure
  • Increased citations and usage
  • Faster innovation

What is green open access?

Researchers can deposit a version of their published work into a subject-based or institutional repository.

What is gold open access?

Researchers can publish in an open access journal and the publisher provides free online access. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is where to find such journals.

There are various business models behind Open Access.

Type Sub Type Who Pays?
Gold Diamond Institution by subsidy
Gold Not for profit Author by fee
Gold For profit Author by fee
Gold Hybrid gold, for profit Author by fee +library by subscription
Green Final version in repository Library by subscription
Green Pre-prints Library by subscription
Green Working papers Working paper archive
Green Black (sharing against copyright) Publisher

How open is your target journal?


To find out the policies of your target journal, the best place to start is RoMEO . Romeo is a searchable database of publisher’s policies regarding the self-archiving of journal articles on the Web and in Open Access repositories.