Guide to Open Access

Open access

Open Access is the free and unrestricted online access to publications: to read, download and re-use, subject to proper attribution. Most funders require research outputs to be made available for free to maximise the benefits of the research. Open access is also a requirement for submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The main routes to Open Access are:

Gold Open Access

Immediate Open Access on the publisher’s site, usually in exchange for a fee called an Article Processing Charge (APC) or Book Processing Charge (BPC)

There are a number of different models for journals:

  • Subscription (hybrid) journals that offer a Gold Open Access option for an individual article by payment of an APC
  • Gold Open Access journals which do not have subscriptions and in which all articles are Open Access, usually by payment of an APC
  • Diamond Open Access is almost identical to Gold but there is no APC or fee for publishing. These journals are often funded by organisations, institutions, or other initiatives.

There is a wide range of options for publishing Open Access books and monographs, ranging from scholar led presses, learned societies and large commercial publishers. Many different models of Open Access monograph publishing are emerging. Some, but not all charge a BPC.

Green Open Access

Depositing research in an institutional or subject repository. The version deposited is normally the author's final accepted manuscript. It may be closed access on the repository for an embargo period after publication. However, major funders increasingly require immediate Open Access which may be done by using the Rights retention Strategy

Open Access publications are licensed to indicate this status and to state how they can be re-used. Creative Commons licences e.g. the creative commons attribution licence (CC BY) are most commonly used.

This video gives a basic introduction to open access and highlights some of the reasons why it is important.


To learn more about open access, have a go at The Puzzling Hunt for Open Access. In this online tutorial, a villain has locked away all research at the University of Essex and you must solve a range of puzzles to make research open again! Think you have what it takes to defeat the villain?! Start the puzzle now!

For a more in-depth overview of Open Access complete our Introduction to Open Access online tutorial to learn more about:

  • What open access is, and why it is important
  • Ways to find open access content
  • Ways to publish open access
  • Research funders
  • Plan S

Open Access: 12 key concerns answered

The Open Access: 12 key concerns answered resource was designed by the Eastern Arc OA and Scholarly Communications Group and twelve common concerns around open access. Read more on Eastern Arc's website. 

Find out more

Discover more about the routes to making your work open access. 

Get in touch
Jim Jamieson Open Research Governance Manager
Albert Sloman Library
Telephone: 01206 874417