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Open Access Resources: What is Open Access?

This research guide provides links to a variety of open access resources. Open access materials are free to use, cannot be altered, and do not exist behind a paywall.

Open Access Defined

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) works to enable the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials in order to democratize access to knowledge, accelerate discovery, and increase the return on our investment in research and education.  SPARC defines Open Access as:

  • Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment" (

Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project, and a Senior Researcher at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, briefly defines open access as:

  • Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.
  • OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance.
  • There are two primary vehicles for delivering OA to research articles: OA journals and OA archives or repositories. (