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What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) is the practice of providing free, unrestricted access to peer-reviewed scholarly research outputs via the internet.

Outputs are usually made available under Creative Commons licences, which allow them to be shared freely and widely, and can be reused for research, teaching or other purposes.

Routes to Open Access

There are two routes to Open Access:

  • Green Open Access or self-archiving, where the author deposits a version of their article, conference paper, book chapter or other research output into a research repository
  • Gold Open Access or Open Access publishing, where the output is made freely available online immediately upon publication

How it works

Green Open Access

When making your work Open Access via the Green route, your article, or other output, is published under the traditional model, where the reader pays for access, either in print or online. A digital version of the article is also made available free-of-charge on another platform.

Where you deposit your article may depend on your publisher’s policy and any requirements set out by your funder, but usually this will be in an institutional or subject-specific research repository. The institutional repository at Warwick is the Warwick Research Archive Portal (WRAP). You can find repositories by discipline using the OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories) database.

Although some publishers will allow you to deposit the final published version (the Version of Record), the Green version is usually the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM)—you may also see this referred to as the ‘author manuscript’, ‘final author version’ or ‘post-print’. The AAM incorporates any changes following peer-review, but has not yet been though the publisher’s copy-editing and typesetting process.

Your publisher may also impose an embargo, which prevents you from making your article available Open Access until a specific period of time has elapsed since first publication.

When depositing your research to WRAP, the Publications team will check the publishers' permissions to ensure that you are complying with any agreements you have made with them. They will also ensure that your article is made available as soon as the embargo comes to an end.

Open Access and the REF

If you need to make your peer-reviewed journal article or conference proceeding Open Access for it to be eligible for the REF-after-REF2021, you should eposit the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) to WRAP as soon as possible and within three months of acceptance.

Gold Open Access

Outputs published via the Gold route are made freely available for anyone to read as soon as they are published. Articles and conference proceedings may appear alongside paywalled articles in a traditional subscription journal—this is known as hybrid OA—or in a fully Open Access journal.

Open Access publications are often seen as inferior to traditional journals and proceedings, but this is simply not the case. So called ‘predatory publishers’ have exploited the OA model, charging authors a fee to publish their work, with no quality control and low production standards. However, there are many high-quality Open Access journals, which apply the same rigorous peer-review processes as traditional journals and many of the large, prestigious publishers, now publish fully Gold titles.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is an independent online directory that indexes open access, peer-reviewed journals. If you are not sure whether a journal is predatory, the Think, Check, Submit website has a range of tools and practical resources to help you identify credible publications. You can also contact the Scholarly Communications Team, scholarlycomms at warwick dot ac dot uk, for more advice.

Open Access fees and charges

There should be no additional cost to make your article available via the Green route. If your publisher asks you to pay a fee to self-archive your article, contact the Library’s Publications Team, publications at warwick dot ac dot uk, for more advice.

Because outputs published via the Gold route do not generate subscription income for the publisher, publication costs, such as administration, copyediting and typesetting, digital production and dissemination, have to be covered in other ways. These may be subsidised by an institution or professional organisation, but more commonly, authors are asked to pay an article processing or article publication charge (APC).

Some research funders state a preference for Gold Open Access and provide specific funding to pay for article processing charges. The Library also has agreements with some publishers that allow Warwick-affiliated authors to make their work Open Access at heavily discounted rates, or in some cases at no additional charge. There is more information about the support available at

Copyright and licensing

Under a traditional publishing agreement, publishers often require authors to assign copyright to them. This means that they own the rights to the published article and the author may need to acquire permission to reuse and distribute their own work.

In Open Access publishing Creative Commons (CC) licences are applied. These allow for the work to be reused, without seeking specific permission from the rights holder, providing the use complies with the terms set out in the licence. For CC-licensed outputs, copyright usually remains with the author under a Licence to Publish.

The Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY) is the most open licence and allows content to be reused for any purpose, as long as the author is attributed. This is the licence preferred by many research funders, including the UK Research Councils (UKRI) and The Wellcome Trust. The full range of licences can be found at About CC licences.

Research outputs made available via the Green route can also be made available under the Creative Commons, for example Warwick authors can deposit their outputs to WRAP under CC licences.

You should keep copies of any agreements you sign with your publishers for your own records.

There is more information about copyright for authors in our Copyright guide.

Open Access logo

Hyperlink  OA funding request
(Warwick login required)

Email  openaccessfund at warwick dot ac dot uk