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International Oncology Subject Guide: Open Access

Open Acess

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions scholarly publishing model. There are two models of Open Access, Graits and Libre.

  • Gratis OA is digital, online, and free of charge, but there are permission barriers, for instance, users cannot copy, distribute, or modify the work beyond fair use.
  • Libre OA is digital, online, free of charge, plus various additional usage rights that are often granted through Creative Commons licenses. For example, there is a restriction for commercial use, or derivative works, or just require attribution and citing the original authors and source.

Why publish in open access journals?

  • Increased citation, usage and fast impact, free and permanent immediate online access upon publication, OA articles have a broader distribution and increased visibility over subscription content, as well as opportunity of research that builds on the paper can be carried out and published quicker.
  • Retention of copyright by authors. 
  • Greater public engagement as those without intuitional subscriptions can access latest research (e.g. patient groups).


  • Many research institutions, and research funders adopted open-access mandates, which requires researchers or research grant recipients to make their published, peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers openly accessible through OA journals and/or OA repositories. The Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP), and the SHERPA/JULIET database are international resources that provide information on funders' policies and their requirements on open access publication.

Open Access publishing:

Authors can publish their works in fully open access journals or hybrid journals "Gold OA" or deposit their works in open access repositories "Green OA".

  • Gold (OA journals) - Gold OA makes the final version of an article freely and permanently accessible for everyone, immediately after publication. Copyright for the article is retained by the authors and most of the permission barriers are removed. Gold OA articles can be published either in fully OA journals (where all the content is published OA) or hybrid journals (a subscription-based journal that offers an OA option which authors can chose if they wish). An overview of fully OA journals can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
  • Green (OA repository) - Green OA, also referred to as self-archiving, is the practice of placing a version of an author’s manuscript into a repository, making it freely accessible for everyone. The version that can be deposited into a repository is dependent on the funder or publisher. Unlike Gold OA the copyright for these articles usually sits with the publisher of, or the society affiliated with, the title and there are restrictions as to how the work can be reused. There are individual self-archiving policies by journal or publisher that determine the terms and conditions e.g. which article version may be used and when the article can be made openly accessible in the repository (also called an embargo period). A list of publishers’ self-archiving policies can be found on the SHERPA/RoMEO database. A list of institutional and subject-based repositories can be found on the OpenDOAR directory.

 Open Access cost:

When choosing to publish in an OA journal, the author or institution may have to pay for publication. These can be referred to as article processing charges (APC) or author processing charges. Some journal publishers may also have open access funding support services. For example, Springer Nature. When choosing a journal, you may wish to check their open access author information to see if they have any resources to help.

For a list of Publishers' paid open access options see SHERPA/RoMEO.

Where to find an OA publisher?

The best place to find a reputable, peer-reviewed open access journal is through the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). This is a quality-controlled directory that journals have to apply to in order to be included on the list. The directory can be searched by subject, country, license, or publication charges. While this list is not exhaustive, it is the most comprehensive resource for find an open access journal. 

Some examples of open access publishers: