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Introduction to Open Access

This page contains an introduction to Open Access publishing. For more detailed information, lists of OA publications/publishers, and more, please follow the link to our Open Access libguide.


The staff of the Library at Mount Saint Vincent University wish to acknowledge and thank colleagues at the University of Alberta Libraries for their kind permission to copy some content from their Open Access Guide.

What is Open Access Publishing?

Open access (OA) is the free, online availability of scholarly journal articles, including peer-reviewed materials, and primarily in reference to those which authors publish without expectation of payment.

Open Access can refer to publishing initiatives where journals make their articles freely accessible immediately on publication, or to self-archiving initiatives where authors make copies of their own published articles freely accessible via a subject-based or institutional repository.

According to SHERPA / RoMEO over 90% of peer-reviewed journals have endorsed some form of self-archiving.

OA: A Brief Glossary

OA self-archiving Authors publish in a subscription journal, but in addition make their articles freely accessible online, usually by depositing them in an institutional repository such as the E-Commons at Mount Saint Vincent University. This is one of two methods for providing open access and may be referred to as The Green Road to Open Access.

OA publishing  Authors publish in open access journals that make their articles freely accessible online immediately upon publication. Publishing in an open access journal is the second method for providing open access and may be referred to as The Gold Road to Open Access.

Pre-print    In most instances this is the version of an article before peer-review. However, some publishers use pre-print to mean a peer-reviewed and amended article that has not yet been type-set or formatted for publication.

Post-print    The version of the article after peer-review and final revision i.e. the version intended by the author for publication, but before the publisher's type-setting and formatting. In most cases it is the author's post-print, not the publisher's formatted version, that is deposited in the E-Commons.

DOAJ  The Directory of Open Access Journals which lists and indexes peer-reviewed, open access scientific journals.

OJS   An acronym for Open Journal Systems, open source publishing software developed by the Public Knowledge Project in Canada and now used around the world.

PLoS  The Public Library of Science, an advocacy organization and open access publisher of high quality scientific open access journals.

SPARC  An acronym for Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. SPARC was developed in 1997 by the Association of Research Libraries to address the crisis created by rising journal subscription costs and declining academic library budgets. Open access was proposed as a possible strategy to address the crisis.

Open initiatives supported by the Mount Library

The Mount Library is proud to financially support several regional, national, and global initiatives to make scholarly work openly available: