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Open Access at the Library

Myths and Facts About Open Access

Open Access is part of an “open” movement whose purpose is to increase access to research and knowledge [1]. Open access research articles are made freely available online for everyone to read and use, both through open access journals and by authors self-archiving their work in open repositories.


Myth: Publishing your article in an open access journal is the only open access option. 

Many traditional, non-open access journals allow authors to self-archive a copy of their article in an open repository. This is called “green” open access and it meets most funders’ requirements for publishing open access.

  • You can look up a journal’s self-archiving policy using a tool called Sherpa RoMEO.


Myth: Open access journals are of poor quality.

As the number of open access journals has grown, so has the number of high quality and high impact factor open access journals. For example, PLOS Biology was ranked #3 by impact factor in the Biological Science category of Journal Citation Reports in 2018. In 2019, Journal Citation Reports added 108 new fully open access journals to their coverage [3].

To see more high quality open access journals, go to:

  • SCImago Journal Rank (free): Choose a subject and select the “Only open access journals” filter


Myth: Most open access journals are not peer reviewed

The Directory of Open Access Journals lists over 13,000 journals that meet its inclusion criteria. Currently, over 99% of journals in DOAJ are peer reviewed [4].  


Fact: Many studies have shown an association between an article being available open access and its citation count.

SPARC Europe maintained a list of studies (2001-2015) that addressed the question of whether there is a citation advantage for open access articles. Out of 70 studies, 46 found a citation advantage. However, the results vary significantly across disciplines [5] [6].


Fact: Open access articles shared with a Creative Commons license can be used in a variety of ways.

Are you looking for high quality, specialized content to reuse in open textbooks or other open educational materials you are creating?

All open access articles are freely available for anyone to read. Many open access journals apply a Creative Commons license to the articles they publish, giving users greater freedom to reuse article content in different ways – as long as they follow license requirements.

For example, the open access journal Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology uses a CC-BY Creative Commons license. Content from their articles can be reused in, for example, an open textbook as long attribution is given.



[1] JISC. (2016). An introduction to open access. Retrieved from

[2] UNESCO. Open educational resources (OER). Retrieved from

[3] Collier, C. (2019). Announcing the 2019 Journal Citation Reports. Retrieved from

[4] Directory of Open Access Journals. Search. Retrieved from

[5] SPARC Europe. The Open Access Citation Advantage Service (OACAS). Retrieved from

[6] Tennant, J. P., Waldner, F., Jacques, D. C., Masuzzo, P., Collister, L. B., & Hartgerink, C. H. (2016). The academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access: an evidence-based review. F1000Research, 5, 632. doi:10.12688/f1000research.8460.3.

Some ideas for this list were drawn from:

Suber, P. (2013, Oct. 21). Open access: Six myths to put to rest. Retrieved from

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