Open Access

Open Access FAQ

What is Open Access?

Open access is the “free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open access ensures that anyone can access and use these results” (SPARC Open Access). Open Access is a “means of disseminating scholarly research that breaks from the traditional subscription model of academic publishing…shift[ing] the costs of publishing so that readers, practitioners, and researchers obtain content at no cost” (Open Access Spectrum).

How can my research be made Open Access?

There are several ways to provide open access to your work, which can be described by the different open access models:

Green Open Access refers to the model where the author self-archives a published paper in an institutional or central/subject-based repository or on a personal website, making it freely accessible.

Gold Open Access is the model where the publisher makes research articles freely available to the public.

There is also a hybrid approach, where some journal content is available openly while other articles are available only to paying subscribers.

How can I tell if a journal is Open Access?

When evaluating Gold OA options, figuring out how “open” a journal’s policies are is an important factor in determining where to publish your research. To help you decide where to publish and understand a particular journal’s level of open access, consult the Open Access Spectrum (OAS) Evaluation Tool. The OAS Evaluation Tool quantitatively scores journals’ degrees of “openness.”

The How Open Is It? Open Access Guide can also be used to “understand the components that define Open Access journals; learn what makes a journal more open vs. less open; and make informed decisions about where to publish” (Open Access Spectrum).

These resources are collaborations between Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), the Public Library of Science (PLOS), and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).

Why should I publish in open access journals?

Publishing in OA journals helps to create a sustainable, fair publishing model that enables the acceleration of research globally. Creating barrier-free access to research ideas and data for scholars, researchers, students, and the public to spread knowledge and enhance research productivity contributes to the evolution of our scholarly communications ecosystem.

OA publishing and repositories contribute to a stable, sustainable model for preserving the research conversation for future generations.


Additionally, articles made available on an open access basis may be cited more and be more influential than those that have not (see a summary of such citation studies).

Why wouldn’t I publish in Open Access journals?

Some journal publishers and scholarly societies argue that open access will undermine their financial health and have other negative consequences.

Some open access journals ask for authors to pay fees for publication which can be quite expensive – it is important for authors to ask about fees before signing publisher agreements.

Does University of Houston have an open access policy?

At this time, the University of Houston has no open access policy, though the topic is being investigated by a group of faculty senators.

Does the University provide financial support for author’s fees in OA?

Interested researchers should ask their departments or the UH Division of Research, as funding may be available. At this time, there is no formal fund or application process for author’s fees at the University level.

Does University of Houston have an institutional repository?

This option will be available to UH researchers in January 2017.

As a graduate student, what are the repository options for my thesis or dissertation?

Please submit your thesis or dissertation to the Vireo Thesis and Dissertation Submission system, an application supported by the Texas Digital Library. More information on theses and dissertations policies, frequently asked questions, and submission guidelines can be found on the UH Graduate School’s Thesis and Dissertation Policies page. Any questions about embargo or other publication related topics should be directed to your advisor.


For more information about supporting and publishing open access, visit these resources:

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resource Coalition (SPARC): a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC empowers people to solve big problems and make new discoveries through the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education

Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA): represent the interests of Open Access (OA) journal and book publishers globally in all scientific, technical and scholarly disciplines.

The Public Library of Science (PLOS): a non-profit organization of scientists committed to making the world’s scientific and medical literature freely accessible to scientists and to the public

The Open Access Spectrum (OAS): an evaluation tool that quantitatively scores journals’ degrees of openness. It offers a concrete, quantifiable mechanism to analyze publications’ policies. The OAS Evaluation Tool aims to provide unprecedented insight and transparency into scholarly journals’ degree of openness.

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