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Open Access: Definitions

Open access is a means of taking advantage of the global reach and relative inexpense of internet publishing to make peer-reviewed scholarly content freely available.

Definitions and Organizations

For scholarly work Open Access (OA) means free, immediate, permanent online access to the full text of peer reviewed literature for anyone connected to the internet.

Other definitions:

SPARC: Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (200+ members are primarily academic and research libraries located in the U.S. and Canada)

EPrints (open-source digital repository platform developed at the University of Southampton)

Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (supported by ten Australian and eight New Zealand Institutions with a commitment to Open Access) (a community resource)

Other important organizations defining open access in academia: (The National Library of the Netherlands)

Controversies: the notion of Predatory OA scholarly publishing

The notion of "predatory" publishing in OA has been around since 2009. The notion itself is controversial and has been challenged.

See Anderson, Rick. "Should we retire the term 'predatory publishing' "? the scholarly kitchen, May 11, 2015.  Accessed Oct. 19, 2016.

Committee on Publication Ethics and Open Access

Jeffrey Beall's Warnings: Predatory Open Access Scholarly Publishers

What Makes A Scholarly Publisher Predatory?

A predatory publisher may...

  • Re-publish papers already published in other venues/outlets without providing appropriate credits.
  • Use boastful language claiming to be a "leading publisher" even though the publisher may only be a startup or a novice organization.
  • Operate in a Western country chiefly for the purpose of functioning as a vanity press for scholars in a developing country (e.g., utilizing a maildrop address or PO box address in the United States, while actually operating from a developing country).
  • Provide minimal or no copyediting or proofreading of submissions.
  • Publish papers that are not academic at all, e.g. essays by lay people, polemical editorials, or obvious pseudo-science.
  • Have a "contact us" page that only includes a web form or an email address, and the publisher hides or does not reveal its location"


Potential, Possible, or Probable Predatory Scholarly Open-Access Publishers: A List


Source: Scholarly Open Access: Critical Analysis of scholarly open access publishing, a website authored by Jeffrey Beall