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Open Access Publishing : What is Open Access?

This guide provides guidance in open access scholarly publishing for researchers in all disciplines.

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Defining Open Access

Open access (OA) refers to freely available, digital, online information.  Open access scholarly literature is free of charge and often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works, for both the users and the authors. 

While OA is considered a new form of scholarly publishing, many OA journals comply with well-established peer-review processes and maintain high publishing standards.  Please see Peter Suber's thorough overview of Open Access on the following website:

Green vs. Gold

Green OA publishing refers to the self-archiving of published or pre-published works for free public use.  Authors will provide access to preprints or post-prints (pending publisher permission) in an institutional or discipline archive.  Examples of green OA include eCommons@Cornell and

Gold OA publishing refers to works published in an open access journal and accessed via the journal or publisher's website.  Examples of Gold OA include PLOS (Public Library of Science) and BioMed Central.

Gratis vs. Libre


  • Gratis OA is information that is available free of charge, while some copyright and licensing restrictions may still apply.
  • Libre OA is information that is free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restriction.
  • While 'free' implies that the information does not cost anything to access, remember that OA publishing still often involves a cost to the author to publish the work.



Open Access Explained

Contact Information

Sarah Young
Services and Collections Offices
Albert R. Mann Library
Cornell University
Ithaca NY 14850

Phone: 607.254.8085

Jeremy Cusker, Engineering Library

Jeremy Cusker
103B Carpenter Hall

Engineering Library

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14850

(607) 254-6261