UCB Libraries


Open Access FAQ

Table of Contents

What is Open Access (OA)?

Open Access (OA) is a movement that advocates for content that is freely accessible, usually online, to the public. In academia, OA literature provides an alternative to the current costly and unsustainable practice of allowing access to academic research solely through subscriptions. Increasingly, journal subscriptions are becoming prohibitively expensive, and as institutions are forced to cut journal subscriptions, the number of people able to access, view, build upon and cite these research articles decreases.

The OA model of scholarly communication provides greater dissemination of research, as people can view scholarly articles regardless of institutional affiliation or finances. Institutional repositories and public repositories, like NIH's PubMed Central, are hubs for OA literature, and provide a place to showcase the work of a university or tax payer-funded research.


Who is currently participating in the OA movement?

Many peer-reviewed journals are already published via the OA model; to view a list of OA journals, visit the Directory of Open Access Journals.

In addition, many universities help authors negotiate article contracts with their publishers so that authors may retain some level of copyright over their research. Authors can create a reservation of rights addenda for a publisher’s copyright agreement via Science Commons. Reserving these rights enables authors to retain some control over the distribution of their manuscripts and to allow their institutions to deposit articles into freely-available online venues such as institutional repositories.

Further, if you receive funding for your research from the NIH, you are required to make your corresponding work freely available via the public access repository, PubMed Central, as mandated by the NIH's Public Access Policy. The Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a piece of legislation currently before congress, aims to expand the reach of this mandate to include research funded by any government agency with an annual budget larger than 100 million dollars. This would allow anyone to access the research that results from the nearly 60 billion dollars in annual tax-payer support that is distributed through agencies impacted by the FRPAA legislation.

Why should I, as an individual researcher, participate in OA?

When you deposit your work in the our Institutional Repository, the Digital Collections of Colorado, or publish in OA journals the visibility of your research increases as it easily found through search engines. Publishing in OA journals helps you protect your intellectual property rights as they usually allow authors to retain their copyright. When you deposit in our Institutional Repository, the long-term preservation of your scholarly materials in digital form is protected and your work becomes part of a representation of UC Boulder's cummulatative academic achievement.

Does peer-review still occur in OA journals?

Yes, most OA journals are peer-reviewed in the same manner as traditional journals. Typically, even in subscription-based journals, peer reviewers are discipline experts who volunteer their time to review manuscripts; thus, peer-review is financially compatible with open access publishing.

How is OA financed?

Papers published in a subscription-based journal can still be OA if the article manuscript is archived in an institutional repository or a public repository. For some OA journals, the cost of production has to be shifted from subscription fees to manuscript fees to publish. The fees are usually not paid by the author but instead paid for by the institution or written into the author’s research grant. Sometimes OA publishers will waive these fees if financing is not available for the author. The University Libraries offers an Open Access Fund to help scholars pay Open Access publishing fees.


  • CU Boulder Open Access Fund

    The Libraries maintains a fund to support publication in Open Access Journals. Includes eligiblity requirements and application materials

What is an institutional repository?

Institutional repositories are online databases used by institutions to capture, preserve, and provide access to the intellectual output of an organization. In the case of academic institutions such as CU, institutional repositories can be used to gather and disseminate a variety of scholarly materials; this includes not only publications in peer-reviewed journals, but also products of education and research not published elsewhere such as data sets, preprints, postprints, syllabi, theses, and dissertations. For more information self-archiving, subject and institutional repostiories see the library's Repositories & Self-Archving page.

The University Library's institutional repository, the Digital Collections of Colorado, is run in collaboration with the entire University of Colorado system. Find out more about depositing in the CU Boulder Institituional Repository FAQ.


  • OpenDOAR

    Directory of Open Access Repositories worldwide.

How can the CU-Boulder community support Open Access?

Scholars can publish future articles in Open Acces journals and archive all their articles in Repositories. As well as, encouraging their collegues to do the same.


How are the University Libraries supporting Open Access?

The Library runs an Institutional Repository to make the work of the University publicly accessible. It also maintains an Open Access publishing fund to support authors who wish to Publish in OA journals.


Librarians are available to help researchers participate in the OA movement. Consultations are available for authors who need help negotiating their copyright agreements with publishers, researching if they can legally deposit their work in the institutional repository, or applying for OA publishing funds. More generally, Librarians can help those who would like to learn more about OA issues and compliance with mandatory public access policies such as the NIH's Public Access Policy or potentially the FRPAA legislation.