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Scholarly Communications

What is Open Access?

Open access refers to digital content that is free to access and unrestricted by most licensing and copyright barriers. In the world of scholarly publishing, it represents a new paradigm in which published research may be more widely disseminated and authors may gain greater recognition for their work.

Like their traditional counterparts, open access journals vary in quality and prestige. However, serious open access journals rely on the peer review process to vouch for the quality of their articles. Publishers of open access journals come from all academic disciplines.

A common misconception about open access is that it is free. While open access literature is less expensive to publish than traditional journals, the final product still requires the labor of creators, reviewers, editors, and others. The goal is not to create a costless operation, but to shift the burden of paying the bills away from readers.

For more information about open access, see Peter Suber's classic introduction "Open Access Overview."

Finding & Evaluating Open Access Journals

A number of resources are available for locating open access journals. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a non-profit website that lists nearly 10,000 journals (as of this writing) from over 100 countries around the world. Users may browse the collection by title, subject, or country of publication.

Alternatively, users may consult Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory, which provides a comprehensive guide of over 300,000 periodicals. Ulrichsweb offers a number of search tools, including the option to limit your results to peer-reviewed, open access journals.

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