Open access at the University of Minnesota

Open access (OA) research is free to any reader, anywhere in the world. It’s also free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

About open access

Open access fits in with the U’s commitment to "making the knowledge and resources created and preserved at the University accessible to the citizens of the state, the nation, and the world." 

Many OA paths reduce distribution costs. OA monographs and journals maintain high levels of rigor and quality, and increase research access and visibility.

Scholars can work towards OA by

OA publishing has widespread benefits.

  • Authors keep greater control of rights in their publications.  
  • Readers have broader freedoms to use published research.

Contact an open access expert at

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Information and resources for open access

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Common questions about open access

Is access really a problem?

Yes, access is a problem—no organization can afford access to all scholarly literature. Frequently, access barriers are a problem. This is particularly true for teaching-focused institutions, and for researchers without a professional network of colleagues who will share copies. 

Journal prices rise much faster than inflation or library budgets, leading to cancellations. Library Journal’s 2020 Periodicals Price Survey estimated that journal prices increase 6% every year. 

Interlibrary loan can help fill gaps. But, copyright law and some publishers’ license agreements restrict the use of e-journals for interlibrary loan. 

Is OA content peer-reviewed?

A journal’s peer review process is not related to whether it's OA. The Directory of Open Access Journals is one way to find out about  OA journals’ review policies.

How does funding OA relate to funding research?

The costs of funding scholarly publications have mostly been paid by university libraries. Most research funding has come from federal agencies or indirectly through university salaries. That disconnect has contributed to unsustainable price increases.

At a macro-economic level, the cost of OA publishing is less than the cost of traditional publishing. That increased research access then increases the effectiveness of research money. Funders get "more bang for their buck." Anticipated OA costs can be incorporated into grant proposals.

How does OA relate to publisher quality?

Journal quality depends on peer review and editorial processes. This is not connected to whether its publications are open access or subscription-based. Print-based vanity presses are long-standing; now some are online.

Learn more about assessing publishers and conferences

How does OA affect academic societies’ revenues?

There is no evidence that publishing revenues are declining or at risk due to OA. The BTAA Author’s Rights Addendum and the U of M Open Access Policy let authors provide open access by depositing their works in a public repository, like the University Digital Conservancy.

Repositories supplement journal readership, but don't replace it. Nearly all new physics articles are freely available in arXiv, but subscription-based journals continue to thrive. The American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics Publishing were unable to find any subscriptions lost as a result of arXiv.

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Approaches to open access

There are various approaches to achieving OA. Some of these approaches have unique terminology.

Publication-based models

Some OA materials are openly available in their original place of publication. There are a number of routes.

Delayed OA
Free access after a specified period, usually 6 months to 2 years. During that period, the publisher receives subscription revenue.
Short-term OA
Free access for a short period after publication, after which they are only available to subscribers.
Selected OA
Selected articles are freely available, while the rest require a subscription to access.
Hybrid OA
Authors pay a fee (called an Article Processing Charge, or APC) to make their article OA immediately on publication. If they choose not to pay the APC, access to the article requires a subscription.
Full OA
All the journal’s articles are immediately OA. This may require a APC (often referred to as "Gold OA") or have no author-facing charges (often called "diamond OA")

Subscription and publication costs

OA publishing still has costs, but they are not paid by those needing access to research.

Some OA journals cover publication costs with Article Processing Charges (APCs). These are paid by the author, the author's research grant, or the author's institution. Journals may offer institutional memberships, where APCs are either reduced or waived.

Both subscription costs and author fees can be scrutinized to determine value for money.

Green (author-based) models

Authors can make their work available without publishing in an OA journal.

  • Many journal policies allow self-archiving, or posting on a website or in a repository. There are often limitations on which article version can be posted and when.
    • Find out a journal’s policy in the SHERPA/RoMEO database,
    • For published articles, search the article DOI at to learn about sharing options,
    • Use the UMN open access policy to maintain self-archiving rights.
  • Negotiate with the publisher to retain some rights to the article. The author and publisher can share rights in various ways. Read about how to do this with an author’s addendum.
  • Use self-archiving rights to deposit copies of publications in the University Digital Conservancy.

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