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Open Access: Types of OA

An overview of open access (OA) basics and resources.

Types of Open Access

There are many types of open access journals, and they fall into different publishing models:

  • Gold – publisher makes to articles in fully accessible on the journal website, under a creative commons or similar license. An APC is usually paid by the author (or other funder).
  • Hybrid – a subscription journal where the publisher allows authors to pay to make individual articles open access. Differs from a Gold OA journal because a library (or other subscriber) is still paying for a subscription to the journal, so effectively, the publisher is paid twice for the article, once via subscription, and once via the APC to make the article OA.
  • Diamond/Platinum - journals that publish OA but do not charge APCs. These are funded by institutions, advertising, philanthropy, etc. 
  • Bronze - journals that are free to read online but do not have a license - they are not generally available for reuse.
  • Green – refers to self-archiving generally of the pre or post-print of articles in repositories.

Though green open access generally refers to the post-print of an article, there are three basic version types that can be self archived in repositories:

  • Pre-Prints – The author's copy of article before it’s been reviewed by the publisher, or pre-reviewed
  • Post-Prints – The author's copy of article after it’s been reviewed and corrected, but before the publisher has formatted it for publication, or post-reviewed.
  • Publisher’s Version – The version that is formatted and appears in print or online.

If authors have signed a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA), publisher's policy will determine which version of an article can be archived in a repository. Most publishers allow some sort of green open access. Authors can check their CTA for this information. SHERPA/RoMEO is a database of publisher copyright policies and self archiving information that authors can use to check which version they may be allowed to archive. Not all journals are in SHERPA/RoMEO and it isn't always current, so authors may also want to check the publisher's website as well.