Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment.


Why Open Access?

  • Accelerated discovery. With open access, researchers can read and build on the findings of others without restriction.
  • Public enrichment . Much scientific and medical research is paid for with public funds. Open Access allows taxpayers to see the results of their investment.
  • Improved education . Open Access means that teachers and their students have access to the latest research findings throughout the world.


We engage and invest in research in order to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, encourage innovation, enrich education, and stimulate the economy – to improve the public good. Communication of the results of research is an essential component of the research process; research can only advance by sharing the results, and the value of an investment in research is only maximized through wide use of its results.

Yet, too often, because of cost barriers or use restrictions, research results are not available to the full community of potential users. The Internet gives us the opportunity to bring this crucial information to a worldwide audience at virtually no marginal cost, and allows us to use it in new, innovative ways. This has resulted in a call for new framework to allow research results to be more easily accessed and used— the call for Open Access.


Click here to learn who benefits from Open Access, including researchers, educational institutions, students, businesses, the public, and more.


SPARC considers the terms outlined by the Creative Common's Attribution-Only license (CC-BY) to be the standard terms for Open Access.

There are four primary mechanisms that can be used to enable Open Access:

Open Access Publishing: Authors can choose to publish their research articles in a growing number of journals that meet the full definition of Open Access. Articles are free to all interested readers, and the publishers place no financial or copyright barriers between the readers and the article. Open Access publishing is the fastest rowing segment of the scholarly publishing market, and journal options are now available for nearly every area of research. A comprehensive list of Open Access journals is provided by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) .

Digital Repositories: Authors can choose to deposit their research articles in digital archives (often called Digital Repositories or Institutional Repositories) which conform to the standards of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI), and enable readers to freely access and fully reuse the article text. This allows any author to make their work available under Open Access conditions regardless of the journal out the article is published in. There are more than 2,000 open Digital Repositories available for authors to use around the world, and a comprehensive listing of is available through the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) .

Effectively Managed Author Rights: As the authors of a research paper, you have ability to ensure that your article can be accessed and used by the widest possible audience. Tools such as Addenda to traditional Copyright Transfer Forms are readily available, proven resources that can help you understand open licenses, and to publish your articles under full Open Access conditions.

Local, National and International Open Access Policies: Institutions that support research, from public and private research funders to higher education institutions, can implement effective policies that that support making Open Access to scholarly research articles the default mode for their researchers.


Why Should You Care About Open Access?

Over the past decade, Open Access has become central to advancing the interests of researchers, scholars, students, businesses, and the public - as well as librarians. The digital environment poses new challenges and provides new opportunities in the sharing, review, and publication of research results. Ensuring broad, unfettered access to the knowledge contained in primary research articles and the rights to use these articles fully will play a key role in seeing that the scholarly communication system evolves in a way that supports the needs of scholars and the academic enterprise as a whole.

Increasingly, institutions that support research – from public and private research funders to higher education institutions – are implementing policies that require researchers to make articles that report on reserach generated from their funding openly accessible to and fully useable by the public.