Access Email

FAQ: Open Access (OA)

See also: Open BU FAQ

What is Open Access (OA)?

While many peer-reviewed academic journal articles are available only through fee-based databases or journals that require a paid subscription, Open Access (OA) literature is freely available scholarly articles, research reports and other material. Examples of OA platforms include institutional repositories and OA journals. Boston University libraries are actively supporting the OA movement.

OA literature not only freely accessible, it is also more likely to be cited. For more information on OA repositories and resources, visit the library's OA Research Guide.
You may also find Peter Suber's, a well-known OA advocate, Open Access Overview informative.

Who is currently participating in the OA movement?

Many peer-reviewed journals are already published via OA; to view a list of OA journals, visit the Directory of Open Access Journals. In addition, many educational institutions are beginning to help authors negotiate article contracts with their publishers so that authors may retain some level of copyright over their research. This enables institutions to deposit articles into freely available online venues such as institutional repositories. Please see our research guide on Open Access for a timeline of the movement. Further, if you receive funding for your research from the NIH, you are required to make your correspnding work freely available via the public access respository, PubMed Central, as mandated by the NIH's Public Access Policy.

How is BU participating in the OA movement?

Acting on a recent recommendation by the Faculty Council, Boston University is committed to the Open Access movement. Our involvement proceeds along two major avenues. Some journals whose editors are members of the BU community are open access publications. In addition, BU researchers are invited to contribute to BU's Institutional Respository, Open BU.

For more information on Open BU and Institutional Respositories, see the Open BU FAQ.

Why should I, as an individual researcher, participate in BU's move toward OA?

Your voluntary participation in the BU open access initiative increases your visibility as a researcher at BU and beyond, expands your audience, enables other researchers to find your work more easily, guarantees long-term preservation of your scholarly materials in digital form, helps you disseminate the materials you produce as well as generate citations for annual faculty reports, engages you in establishing stronger relationships with your colleagues and other researchers, and helps you protect your intellectual property rights when working with the current journal publishing system.

Why is BU participating in the OA movement? How does this benefit our institution?

BU's open access initiative reinforces its role as one of the world's leading private research and teaching institutions. It provides an opportunity for the academic community to help reimagine scholarly communication by expanding access to research done by BU faculty all over the world. Faculty benefit by gaining greater visibility and more control over their intellectual output.

Other benefits include:

How can I participate in the Open Access movement at BU?

First and foremost, we encourage you to contribute materials to Open BU, our institutional repository. These may be both copyrighted and other materials; you would be granting BU a non-exclusive license to archive and publish them. "Non-exclusive" means that you retain all your rights as an author and may still publish these materials in any publication you wish.

Does OA conflict with peer review?

No, even if you publish in an exclusively open access journal. Most OA journals are peer-reviewed, in the same manner as traditional journals, and most self-archived articles are peer reviewed.

How is OA financed?

Different models exist. Papers published in a commercial journal can still be OA when the article manuscript is archived in an institutional repository, like BU's Open BU, or a public repository like PubMed Central (some journals allow the publisher's copy into these repositories as well). For some OA journals, the cost of production has to be shifted from subscription fees to fees to publish. The fees aren't meant to be paid by the author out of pocket, but rather written into a grant. Sometimes OA publishers will waive these fees if financing isn't available for the author.