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Open Access FAQ

Information and resources addressing frequently asked questions about open access publishing

What is Open Access?

...the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge

Budapest Open Access Initiative, 2001

Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge...Open Access is compatible with copyright, peer review, revenue (even profit), print, preservation, prestige, quality, career-advancement, indexing, and other features and supportive services associated with conventional scholarly literature.

Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project


  • can be peer-reviewed, in fact the majority of open-access publications insist on it.  
  • can be just as high-quality as traditionally published research.
  • can be applied to books, journals, journal articles, videos, data or any products of scholarly or creative work.
  • often allows an author to retain more rights to their work.
  • isn't free of production costs, however several OA business models exist. Open Access is a well-established publishing model. 

Benefits of Open Access

More visibility, exposure & access to your work

  • Access for researchers in developing countries and all over the world
  • Access for practitioners, policy makers, legislators, and the general public, everywhere
  • Vassar faculty have committed to disseminating research and scholarship as widely as possible1

Higher citation rates & increased impact

  • OA articles have a 100% increase in citation rates than paywalled articles2
  • OA articles have over a 116% increase in download rates as compared to paywalled articles2
  • OA articles have an increased diversity of citations by location and discipline3
  • OA monographs have been found to receive 3.21 times more use, and 15- 21% more citations than non-OA monographs4

Facilitates collaboration within and across disciplines & sparks innovation

  • OA publishing allows for reproduction and redistribution, including educational use or translation into another language
  • OA increases research transparency, and can bring new scholars to build upon and engage with your work, who might not otherwise have access
  • OA can allow for immediate and practical application in addressing global challenges, from health and education equity to climate change to inclusive economic growth and the commitment to democracy5

Complies with grant/ funder requirements & government standards

  • Many funders including US government agencies mandate the open access publication of research outputs funded with grant or government support to ensure a greater return on their (and possibly taxpayer) investment 

Selecting an OA Journal or Repository for Your Publications

Icons from the Noun Project. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Questions or comments about this guide? Email us at