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Open Access

What is open access?

Open access (OA) refers to unrestricted online access to articles published in scholarly outlets. Types of open access publications available online include articles, books and book chapters, conference papers, theses, working papers, data, images and open educational resources, including textbooks, video content and lecture notes.

Benefits of open access

Publishing open access allows content to be freely available online to anyone.

Curious about what open access can do for you? Try this PLOS Open Science benefit tool to assess which actions will provide you with the most benefits.
Why is there a focus on open access?

Watch this video by Professor Ginny Barbour for context on why there is a focus on open access.

Different versions of open access

Following are the main routes for open access.

Visit Open Access Australasia for additional details on the available types (routes) of open access and for information on Open Access & Copyright.

Open access route Description

'Gold' open access

With the immediate 'Gold' open access route, authors publish in a fully open access journal.


  • pay an article processing charge (APC)to the publisher who makes the article immediately open, findable and accessible (if available, use your grant or institutional funds)
  • deposit the article details (including the DOI link to the published article) in ResearchDirect
  • articles should include a Creative Commons licence that specifies how the end user can use the article
  • authors retain copyright and grant the publisher a 'licence to publish'.
'Diamond' open access Journals that are free for authors to publish in and free for readers to access (search the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) for journals that are 'Without fees' and where the 'Author retains all rights'). These are community-driven journals supported by institutions.

'Green' open access


Subscription (traditional) route – Journals that are free for authors to publish in. However, a fee is required for readers to access. Supports self-archiving (also known as ‘Green’ open access where an embargo period generally applies to immediately and openly sharing the full text of your work. With these agreements, aim to negotiate the rights to your work with the publisher and apply a Creative Commons licence to your manuscript. Start the conversation with the publisher by using the SPARC Author Addendum.

The publisher generally owns the copyright of the article. For information about copyright and licensing, see: Open Access & Copyright (Open Access Australasia).


  • self-archive the postprint version (Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM)) in an institutional repository (ResearchDirect), although an embargo period may apply

In ResearchDirect, the deposited manuscript will be set to automatically become openly available at the end of the embargo period. Article versions and embargos are explained further at the end of this section.

'Hybrid' open access


'Hybrid' open access route


  • the author pays an APC to make an individual article immediately open access in an otherwise subscription-based journal (institutional funds do not allow for publishing in hybrid journals)
  • other articles in the journal may NOT be available via open access.
  • the APCs are usually higher than for fully Open Access journals.

This route is not preferred, as it provides an opportunity for publishers to "double dip" into the [limited] pool of research funds by charging:

  • the Library a subscription for the journal, on behalf of the WSU community, to access other articles in the journal that are not open access, and
  • the author an APC for a particular article in the journal.
Article Processing Charges (APC)

Before you commit to paying an APC, you must know why the journal charges you to publish your research article. There may be no requirement at all for you to pay an APC. Find out more in the Article processing charges (APC) step.

Article versions

Article versions

There are different versions of an article as it goes through the publishing process.


Preprint / Author's Original Manuscript (AOM)

The preprint (Author's Original Manuscript) is the author’s version of a research manuscript before formal peer review.


Postprint / Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM)

The postprint may also be called the Accepted Version or the Author Accepted Manuscript. This is the version following peer review, with revisions made, but without copy editing or formatting contributed by the publisher.


Published PDF / Version of Record (VoR)

The published article is the journal version ‘as published’ (sometimes called the ‘publisher’s PDF’). This version generally includes value added by the publisher, such as hyperlinked references, journal branding, typesetting (into columns) and pagination. Only a small proportion of all publishers will allow this version to be made open access, even after an embargo (unless it is published as open access).


Some publishers will allow the Author Accepted Manuscript to be made available after an ‘embargo period’. This is a period of time where the work can be deposited into an institutional repository but is not allowed to be made open access. Embargo periods can vary from 6 to 36 months, with 12 months being the most common in Science and Health Disciplines and 18-24 months in Social Sciences and Humanities.

Check Sherpa Romeo for the publisher's embargo periods.

Diagram of different versions of an article as it goes through the publishing process, illustrating the text description.

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Library guide created by Western Sydney University Library staff is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY)