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Publishing through Open Access: Introduction - Why Open Access?

What is Open Access publishing?

Open Access (OA) is free,Graphic: Pathway of open access publishing unrestricted online access to scholarly articles and information for everyone. What it means to academia and research is that cost and access restrictions are removed from the equation, allowing free access to peer-reviewed, scholarly works, journal articles, books, images, data, and just about any other electronic material.

Open Access (OA) is an international movement to make research publications freely available in order to stimulate further research. In an Open Access journal, articles can be freely downloaded by anyone, without any subscription fees or barriers.

This image illustrates how OA publishing can work. All of the terms in the image will be explained throughout this Library help guide.


What is the motivation regarding Open Access?

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) describe how the current, centuries old model of publishing takes advantage of public funds and the free labour of researchers:

  1. Governments provide most of the funding for research—hundreds of billions in funding annually—and public institutions employ a large portion of all researchers.
  2. Researchers publish their findings without the expectation of compensation. Unlike other authors, they hand their work over to publishers without payment, in the interest of advancing human knowledge.
  3. Through the process of peer review, researchers review each other’s work for free.
  4. Once published, those that contributed to the research (from taxpayers to the institutions that supported the research itself) have to pay again to access the findings. Though research is produced as a public good, it isn’t available to the public who paid for it.

Even though research is largely produced with public money by researchers who share it freely, the results are hidden behind technical, legal, and financial barriers. These artificial barriers are maintained by legacy publishers and restrict access to a small fraction of users, locking out most of the world’s population and preventing the use of new research techniques.

As a response to this situation, the development of OA publishing arose. Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Source

As you can see in the below PDF, the principles behind the Irish Open Access policy statements agree that research conducted and output from publicly-funded institutions should be publicly available. The funding arose from public funds and so the public should not have to pay again (through journal subscriptions) to see the outputs from that research.  

National Principles for Open Access Policy Statement, Ireland (2012)

There is also the National Action Plan for Open Research which runs from 2022-2030. The plan outlines objectives and actions for the next chapter in Ireland’s transition towards open research. The action plan serves as a roadmap for the implementation of open research across Ireland, outlining national goals and coordinated actions that will assist the research system as a whole to better support open research practices. Source

National Action Plan for Open Research

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