Frequently Asked Questions about Open Access

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What is open access?

Open access is a form of publishing. Open access publications are online, free to readers, and do not have as many copyright restrictions on their use as traditional publications.

What are the advantages of open access publishing?

  • Because of their online format, open access publications are generally produced faster than print publications.
  • Anyone can read an open access publication anywhere, anytime, for free.
  • The author of an open access work retains copyright to that work.
  • Open access publications generally receive higher visibility than traditional publications because they are under fewer financial and copyright constraints.
Are open access publications peer-reviewed?
Many, though not all, open access publications are peer reviewed. Authors should always check with the journal publisher.
How is open access publishing funded?
Open access publishing is funded in a number of ways, such as foundation grants, individual gifts, annual institutional memberships, author page charges, tax payer support, and in some cases a combination of several of these means. Faculty and students can designate amounts from research grants to cover author page charges.
Why does Northwestern University Library encourage open access publishing?
Northwestern University Library encourages open access publishing because open access fosters genuinely open, free, and timely communication among scholars more effectively than the traditional publishing methods.
Is an open access work protected by copyright?
Yes. An author can retain any or all copyrights (reproduce, distribute, publicly display and perform work) in his or her work in an open access publication, by using a Creative Commons license or negotiating rights directly with the publisher.
What fields do open access works cover?
The science and engineering fields were the earliest adopters of open access publishing and the number of open access publications in those fields continues to grow steadily. Open access is also steadily growing in the social sciences and humanities.
How do I find open access publications in my area?