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What is open access?

Open access is part of the concept of open science. Open access focuses on making the results of research available to everyone at no cost. This means that everyone has the right to read, download, copy, and distribute the results digitally. However, the author still retains copyright and must be credited upon reuse.

Open access has its background from the 1990s, when more and more material could be shared over the early Internet, mainly in natural science subjects. At the same time, more and more publishers began to charge for their digital material, which in the long run led to high costs for the universities. The open access movement is a reaction to these two developments and is manifested in the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2001 and the Berlin Declaration in 2003.

When referring to open access, it primarily pertains to scientific publications such as articles, books, theses, and reports that have undergone peer review.

More information

What is Open Access? (Sheridan College)

Why open access?

In recent years, the effort to make research results accessible to everyone has been driven by various groups in society, including researchers, politicians, publishers, and funders. An international initiative from research funders is Plan S, advocating for immediate open access publication of publicly funded research.

Open access is also highlighted in the research proposition Kunskap i samverkan  (in Swedish) from 2016 where the Swedish government's goal is that all scientific publications that are the result of publicly funded research should be made openly available when they are published. The idea is for the shift to be completed by 2026 at the latest.

At the University West, there has been a decision by the vice chancellor's  (in Swedish) since 2017 stating that "authors should consider publishing in journals freely accessible to readers in accordance with the recommendations of SUHF (Swedish Association of Higher Education)."

There are many benefits for both society and the author to publish works with open access:

  • More readers, broader dissemination, and more citations
  • Accessible material can influence decision-makers and reach a wider audience
  • Compliance with requirements from funders

The image below shows the advantages of open access.

Schematic picture of the benefits of open access

(Karolinska Institutet University Library, 2023)


Research Funders and Open Access

Both national and international research financiers are increasingly demanding that publicly funded research be freely accessible. Funders have come together in Plan S to pursue this issue.

There are often guidelines for how and when the availability should take place with the financier. Costs of open access publication fees can sometimes be covered by the funder, often by including it as a cost in the budget of the project application.

To see what applies to open access publishing for your funder, these two tools are available:

  • SherpaJuliet is a database where you can see different research funders' policies regarding open access.
  • The Journal Checker Tool is a tool where you can compare the journal, funder and your institution to find out which publication options are supported by your funder's open access policy.

Different types of open access

There are different models for publishing  with open access. Below are the different options available:


  • Entails fully open publishing in journals, books, or platforms
  • No fees for the author or reader
  • The author retains copyright to their work
  • Often driven and funded by government agencies or institutions
  • This model is not yet widespread
  • Journals of this model can be found in the DOAJ database, books in the DOAB database.


  • Involves fully open publishing in journals or platforms.
  • Fee for the author, but not for the reader.
  • The majority of publishers and platforms charge a publication fee (Article Processing Charge, APC, or Book Processing Charge, BPC) to the author.
  • With this model, the author retains copyright to their work.
  • This model is also called "full" or "pure."
  • Journals of this model can be found in the DOAJ database, books in the the DOAB database.


  • No fees for the author or reader.
  • Allows the publisher to provide the author with the opportunity to upload the peer-reviewed and accepted author manuscript, known as post-print or AAM, to repositories like DiVA or a website after publishing.
  • In most cases, the author retains copyright to their author manuscript.
  • Most publishers allow this type of open access, allowing authors to choose either a subscription-based journal or an open-access journal/book with a high APC or BPC that best matches their manuscript while still making the article/book freely accessible.
  • Information about a publisher/journal's policies can be found in the SherpaRomeo database.
  • Sometimes, the publisher's rules may involve a delay before publication, ranging from six months and upwards. This is called an embargo.
  • This model is also called parallel publishing or self-archiving.


  • Fee for the author, but not for the reader.
  • For articles, it involves a combination of both subscription-based and open-access content, known as hybrid journals.
  • When an article/book is published open access in a hybrid journal, the author always incurs a publication fee (Article Processing Charge, APC). With this model, the author retains copyright to their work.
  • University West has agreements with many hybrid journals, meaning the author does not have to pay APC (or receives a discount). To see which journals are included in our agreements, you can see it in the SciFree database. (These agreements do not apply to books).

Copyright and open access

Publishing with open access can involve different levels of openness that affect what the end user can do with the publication. Copyright consists of two parts: economic rights and moral rights. An author always holds the copyright to their text, meaning both moral rights and economic rights.

Moral rights cannot be negotiated, but economic rights can be sold or transferred to a publisher or a scientific journal, for example. Publishing agreements determine the conditions for use, and it is important for you as an author to know how your research can be used both before and after publication.

The basic level means that the publication should be readable, without cost, on the web. Often, what can be done in terms of copying, sharing, and reuse is specified using a Creative Commons license (CC license). The use of CC licenses is standard in open-access publishing.

More information

How do I publish articles with open access?

There are different ways to go about getting your article published with open access. There are various databases and services where you can either search freely to find a journal or explore the possibilities for open-access publication for a journal you have already chosen.

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a database that lists high-quality and peer-reviewed open-access journals. In DOAJ, you can search by subject, journal, or ISSN and find journals with diamond or golden open access. In the results list, you can see immediately whether you need to pay a publication fee or not.

BISON is a tool where you can get tips on open-access journals with the help of your title and abstract. The journals are either of the diamond or golden model.

SciFree is a service where you can find which journals the library has agreements with, allowing you to publish with open access at no cost or with a discount. The majority of journals here are hybrid, but there are also some golden ones. Read more about our agreements. To take advantage of them, see what you need to do as an author below:

  • One requirement is that you are the corresponding author, employed or a doctoral student at University West, and have provided your email address at University West.
  • Check that you have provided the correct affiliation. If necessary, you can add additional organizational affiliations.
  • When an article is accepted, you will receive information from the publisher on how to proceed.
  • The library verifies that you belong to University West so that the process can continue.

SherpaRomeo is the database where you can see what opportunities you have to parallel-publish, known as green open access. Here, you can see what different journals allow regarding publishing your final, approved, and corrected manuscript, also known as post-print, with open access.

The library keeps track of whether your article allows green open access and contacts you to obtain the final author version for publication in DiVA. Since Google Scholar indexes the content in DiVA, the article appears there with a link to the full text, allowing those without access to the journal to read it.

Note! Remember to save your post-print so you can take advantage of the green open-access opportunity.

How do I publish books with open access?

Publishing books with open access has increased steadily in recent years, and the publishing models are the same as for articles. However, the development has not been as rapid, and there are no agreements for publishing books with open access at University West.

There are several platforms and services for publishing books with open access:

Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) is a database where you can search for freely accessible e-books and also see which publishers engage in open-access publishing.

OAPEN is a platform where, similar to DOAB, you can find free e-books and publishers that publish with open access.

Open Book Publishers is a publishing house focusing on humanities and social sciences. The publisher offers a diamond model for open-access publishing, meaning the author is exempt from Book Processing Charges (BPC).

Kriterium is a Swedish platform for the review, publication, and dissemination of high-quality scientific books, also implying that all publications are released with open access.

OA Books Toolkit is a website where there is consolidated information on publishing books with open access.