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Open access (OA) journals are scholarly journals that are available online to the reader “without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. There are various ways in which open access can be provided, with the two most common methods usually categorized as either gold or green open access:

Gold Open Access

Gold OA makes the final version of an article openly and for all time available for everyone, instantly after publication. Copyright for the article is held by the writers and the greater part of the authorization boundaries are removed.

Green Open Access

Green OA, also referred to as self-archiving, is the practice of placing a version of an author’s manuscript into a repository, making it freely accessible for everyone. The version that can be deposited into a repository is dependent on the funder or publisher. Unlike Gold OA the copyright for these articles usually sits with the publisher of, or the society affiliated with, the title and there are restrictions as to how the work can be reused.

Benefits of Gold Open Access

  • Increased citation and usage. As articles are freely and permanently available online immediately upon publication they have a broader distribution and increased visibility over subscription content. Research has shown that articles published open access receive higher citations, downloads, and views. Downloaded figures are also sustained over a longer period in articles published OA than those with restricted access.

  • Easy compliance with institutional and sponsor mandates. Content published under a Creative Commons license can be archived anywhere and made immediately available on publication, allowing authors to easily comply with sponsor requirements.

  • Retention of copyright by authors

  • Faster impact. As work is available to all as soon as it is published, research builds on the paper can be carried out and published quicker. This is particularly important in fast moving or time-sensitive fields and topics (e.g. current epidemics).

  • Greater public engagement as those without institutional subscriptions can access the latest research works. Especially valuable when content affects the general public (e.g. patient groups).