What is Open Access?

Open Access is a movement for free and open online access to academic/scientific information, such as publications and data. A publication is defined as “open access” when there are no financial, legal, or technical barriers to accessing it. That is to say when anyone can read, download, copy, disseminate, print, search for and use the information for educational or other purposes within the relevant legal agreements.

It is a publishing model for scholarly communication that makes research available to readers at no cost, as opposed to the traditional subscription model in which readers have access to scholarly information by paying a subscription. One of the most important advantages of open access is that it increases the visibility and reuse of academic research outputs.

While there is no official or legally set definition of open access, one can refer to the definitions and principles that were defined in the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002 and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities in 2003. The Berlin Declaration has been signed by many organizations and institutions internationally, including Greek academic institutions.

Open access to publications

These publications are in the form of articles in academic journals, as this is considered the main and predominant type of scholarly publication. However, over the last years, different models of publishing in OA either for individual chapters or for a whole monograph have been developed in order to support the scientific research work of certain scientific fields where this type of publication applies contrary to publishing articles in journals. At the same time, the publishing of conference proceedings and grey literature (technical references, etc) is encouraged by different organizations, such as the European Commission, in open access. Various types and models of publishing in OA are mentioned below, i.e., OA publishing in journals and books.

Publishing models in journals

Concerning the publishing of articles in scientific electronic journals, there are different ways of publishing open access. In detail, the main routes of supporting open access are:

  1. The Gold Route is implemented in two different ways:
    1. Full open access journals or gold open access journals. These are publishers’ journals in which every publication is open access. There are no subscription fees since they are open but there are publication costs (Article Processing Charges), which are covered by the authors or by their institutions, or the research funder. A list of open access journals can be found on the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) website.
    2. Hybrid journals. These are subscription-based journals that allow open access publication of individual articles on payment of an Article Processing Charge (APC). That is, the contents of these issues include both open and behind-paywall publications, for which a subscription is required for someone to gain access to them.
  2. The green route is also known as self-archiving. The authors deposit their articles either as a preprint or a postprint or an author-accepted manuscript or final peer-reviewed manuscript on a subject or institutional repository before, at the same time, or after their publication in a scientific journal. The journal publishers often demand that the publication be made fully accessible following an embargo period and they adopt a different policy for each published version. For publications funded by the European Union, there is an embargo period of 6 months for Science, Technology, and Medicine and an embargo period of 12 months for Humanities and Social Sciences. As far as the open access repositories and their policies are concerned, a list can be found on the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) website.
  3. The diamond route. This has to do with publications in open access journals without article processing charges to the author. The funding of these publications and journals is made by libraries, institutions, organizations, etc.

Current Open Access Agreements for Greek researchers

Hellenic Academic Libraries Link (HEAL-Link), in the context of the negotiations for the 2019-2021 renewal of its subscriptions to scientific material has managed, where possible, to make a provision for open access publications alongside access to the full text of the subscribed content of the publishers.

At this stage, all the agreements with the provision for OA publishing support the publications only in scientific electronic journals. These agreements support the gold and diamond route and are broken down by publishers.

As the agreements provide different clauses for publishing in OA, it is recommended that you read carefully the terms and conditions provided for each publisher. To enable OA provision, it is mandatory that the corresponding author be a member of the community of HEAL-Link and its recommended that the publication be submitted with the author’s institutional account.

More information concerning the terms of these agreements can be found here.

Open access books

The Open Access publishing model of books and monographs has been in the field of Humanities and Social Sciences in recent years and it is still in its initial stage. There are different publishing types and models developed by not only commercial publishers but non-profit initiatives, as well. As in the publishing in journals, there are also Book Processing Charges which are covered by the author (-s) or their institution (-s). Accordingly, for books, there is a list of open access books on the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) website.