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Open access: What is Open Access?

This guide is about Open Access publishing for researchers at Åbo Akademi University


Open access (OA) -  research output is made openly available in digital form (a publishing business model and an ideal)

APC (Article Processing Charge) - a charge which some journals or publishers charge for making an article open access. Also called open access fee or author fee.

Creative Commons (CC)-license - a copyright license attached to online material by its creator to let other users know what rights they have and do not have to re-use - share, modify, copy, sell the material. 

Digital Object Indentifier (DOI) - a permanent identification number for digital documents

Embargo - a restriction on how soon after publishing an article can be made openly available in an open repository or elsewhere on the Internet

Gold open access -  the publisher makes the scholarly article openly available (in some cases against a fee, in other cases for free). Two main models: full open access publication and hybrid publications.

Hybrid open access - a form of gold open access, when an article published in a subscription journal is made open access using an additional service against a fee. In a hybrid journal, only some of the articles are openly available and the rest behind paywalls.

Gratis open access - the publication is free to read online, but the reuse of it might be bound up with restrictions.

Green open access = parallel publishing = self-archiving = a version of an article primarily published in a subscription journal is archived in an open archive or repository, for instance the university's institutional repository or open archive. 

Libre open access - the publication is free to read online but also void of technical or legal restrictions for reuse (for instance as communcated with the help of Creative Commons licences)

Sherpa/Romeo - an online database which contains information on publishers' and journals' green open access/copyright policies.

Post-print - the author's accepted manuscript: the peer reviewed version of an article, in which some changes may have been made after first submission, but which has not been typeset or copy-edited by the publisher. The very last version edited by the author. (Not the same as the proofs, which usually are typeset). 

Pre-print - submitted version, the manuscript of an article which has not yet been peer reviewed.

Parallel publication = self-archiving = green open access - the publication is made openly available in an open repository, for instance the open research information database of the university.

Roads to open access

What is open access (OA)?

Open access is when research output is made available for free online. It helps spread research results both within the research community and outside it. Readers can access, read, use, copy, print and link to open access publications. 

OA publications should be Gratis OA, free to be read, linked to and printed without cost to the reader, but also Libre OA, void of copyright barriers which hinders the reuse and circulation of it (for instance with the help of open creative commons licenses). 

Gold or green? Open access publication or hybrid?

Open access comes in three main forms:

Gold Open Access is when the publisher makes the article available, either as a:

  • (Full) Open Access publication, when the article is published in a journal, all of the content of which is openly available.  There is no subscription or access fee to readers but some journals charge an APC (article processing charge, or open access fee) to be paid by the author (or usually his or her department or research project) in order to cover the costs of producing the journal. 
  • Hybrid Open Access is when the author can chose to pay the publisher a fee for the extra service to make the article openly available in a subscription journal. In hybrid journals, only some articles are open access. (ÅAU-affiliated researchers are offered APC discounts by many publishers through so called read-and-publish deals, see "APC discounts" above.)

​Green Open Access is hen the author him or herself makes a version of the publication openly available. It is also called 

  • Parallel publishing or self-archiving, when a version of an article is made openly available in an open archive or repository, by researchers at ÅAU for instance in the Research Information System AboCRIS. Parallel publishing is possible for the vast majority of articles which are published behind paywalls. 


A preprint is a version of an article that hasn't been peer-reviewed yet. Preprints are not considered open access but they give the researchers and their research more visibility and they have become an important part of the scientific communication. Read more about preprints in A Practical Guide to Preprints.

Picture: Foster Open Science (PASTEUR4OA)

Videos on open access

Find open access-publications

DOAB Directory of open access books

DOAJ directory of open access journals


Open access theses and dissertation

Publication evaluation tools