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Open Access

This guide celebrates Open Access, Open Education, and Open Science and Open Data

What is Open Access (OA) and Why Does It Matter?

Open Access (OA) information is freely available and free to use. 

In practice and in the context of academe, OA embodies a set of principles and practices that support open sharing, equitable and free access to research, and generous use rights related to research, data, scholarship, and teaching and learning materials. By removing technical, legal, and financial barriers to these scholarly outputs (many of which are publicly funded), OA helps advance knowledge sharing and knowledge production. It helps make scholarly content freely available to everyone.

Have you lost access to your favorite journals after graduation or in between jobs? Have you lost access to journals due to library budget cuts? OA matters for many reasons.

OA leads to increased visibility of your work, increased citation rates, the potential to drive innovation and global impact, improved public access, and compliance with many funder mandates.

OA also helps fix what many describe as a "broken" system of scholarly communication, where:

  • Authors sign away copyright to publishers and often need to obtain permission to use their own work in the future;
  • The public pays twice for research (once to fund it and again to access the results); and
  • Libraries have to "buy back" the research and scholarship that researchers, including those at their own institutions, produced and evaluated.

"What is Open Access" by SHB Online is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

OA Benefits (Infographics)

OA Benefits Infographic


OA Benefits Infographic

Steps You Can Take

Open Access Week

Open Access Week is a global event that encourages the "academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research." (SPARC, About Open Access Week, retrieved October 2021)

Explore the Open Access; Open Science, Open Data; and Open Education tabs in this guide to learn more about these interrelated concepts and about principles and practices for open research, teaching, and learning.


Open Access Week 2023