Open Access research is freely available to anyone that has an internet connection, not just to those who can afford expensive subscriptions to academic journals. The majority of research carried out at universities is publicly funded and making findings available via Open Access means that members of the public can access this research. Open Access research also has clear re-use rights that allow people to build upon and develop research and for activities such as text mining. More information can be found in the copyright and licences section.
There are two types of Open Access: Green Open Access and Gold Open Access.
Green Open Access research is published via the subscription model where a cost is charged for access, but it is also made available for free in an online repository after an embargo period specified by the publisher. Embargo periods differ depending on the publisher but can typically be between 6 and 24 months.
Publishers and journals vary in their policies about what can be made available via Green Open Access but in general it tends to be the Author Accepted Manuscript (the version that has undergone peer review but not yet been published).
The SHERPA RoMEO database provides details on individual journal and publisher policies on Green Open Access.
Gold Open Access research is made freely available immediately upon publication on the publisher's website once a fee has been paid. This fee is typically know as an article processing charge (APC) and can range in cost from as little as £200 to as much as £5000. There are two different types of academic journals when it comes to Gold Open Access:-
Benefits for researchers
Benefits for readers and wider society