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Open access scholarly journals: Introduction

This guide is intended to provide a definition of open access journals, present the main actors in open access e-publishing and help you to find open access journals and papers.


Related guides

Definition of an Open Access journal

Open Access Logo

"An Open Access journal is a type of journal that appeared in the early 1990s. It is a new or existing journal whose articles meet quality requirements as they are reviewed by peers but whose funding method allows the information to be disseminated as widely as possible with unrestricted access and use." [translated from the INIST website, Open Access glossary]

A component of the Open Access movement

According to the Budapest Open Access Initiative, "Open access to [scholarly]literature is its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, [...] or its use for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. " [ Translated from Open Access at l'IST - INIST)

This system whereby research results are made openly available on the Internet was defined in a founding document: the Budapest Open Access Initiative,(BOAI). The BOAI states the strategies to be implemented to boost the Open Access movement. Two strategies have been recommended:

·       The green road, which refers to the self-archiving of publications by researchers.

·       The golden road, which is the approach whereby articles are published in Open Access journals.

Why have Open Access journals?

Open Access journals probably emerged from several reasons

  • A lengthy traditional publishing process.
  • A restrictive copyright system (transfer of copyright to the publisher) that did not promote the use and reuse of scientific output to further research.
  • An excessive number of STM-dedicated publishers followed by an increase in the subscription fees of scholarly journals.
  • Barriers to access (subscriptions, pay per view, licences) that hindered the dissemination of scientific information.
  • Work funded by public organisations that is not openly and freely accessible by the community.

Subject Guide

To cite this guide

SERRES, Alexandre, SICOT, Julien. "Open access scholarly journals". In UBL (Université Européenne de Bretagne). Formadoct. Rennes: UBL, February 2010 (last updated on 3 July 2013). Available at: