About Open Access

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) refers to intellectual content that is freely available online. The word, “free,” in this context, expresses both its meanings at once, gratis and libre. Open Access content is both free of cost and free of most licensing restrictions.

This does not mean that Open Access literature is not copyrighted. Copyright is affixed automatically to a creator’s work upon publication and means that all rights — the rights to distribute and reproduce, to adapt, to perform, to broadcast, to display online and to sell or license these rights to others — reside exclusively with the author.

However, creators can choose to supplement copyright with a Creative Commons license that allows others to legally copy, distribute, remix, revise and build upon their work. There are several licenses to choose from, and they allow for a wide spectrum of access.


Why should I care?

Are you an author, artist, musician or filmmaker?

The growing body of Open Access content available online (sometimes called the digital commons) provides you with a library of material that you can build upon in your own work. All Creative Commons licenses will allow you to copy and distribute the work as long as you attribute the original author, most will allow you to adapt the work to your purposes, and some will even allow you to use the work commercially.

Do you make things that other people might find useful?

By releasing your work under a Creative Commons license, you can share your work with the community while being assured that it is only being used in the ways that you approve. For example, you might want to allow web designers to use your photos, but only for noncommercial purposes, or you might want to allow other musicians to remix your song, but only if they share the new song under the same license.

Creative Commons has a handy license chooser tool that will help you choose the one that works best for you.

Open Access Scholarship

If you want to reach the widest audience of readers, why limit it to those who can pay?

Open Access works are read and downloaded more often, and there is even some evidence that they have higher rates of citation.

Your work can become an Open Educational Resource.

Open Educational Resources save students money, and a collaborative approach to scholarship and pedagogy can advance social justice by identifying and amplifying voices left out of the traditional discourse.

Nobody likes paywalls.

There’s even a movie about it, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship (2018), published under a CC BY license, of course!

Download the Unpaywall browser extension for Chrome or Firefox. If you see a paywalled scholarly article, Unpaywall.org will search its database of over 21 million Open Access articles. If there’s an open version somewhere, just click on the green tab to be directed to that copy.

Consider using Archive.org to host your digital content. Unlike the “attention merchants” at YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, Archive.org does not monetize your content, and it allows you to choose the Creative Commons license that works for you.

Try Google’s new Dataset Search (beta), a search engine that helps researchers locate online data that is freely available for use.

Open Access at Wheaton

The Wallace Library supports the Open Access movement by participating in the Public Library of Science (PLoS), BioMed Central and PubMed, and we link to thousands of open access journals.

Access faculty and student work along with selected texts from our Archives and Special Collections in our Digital Repository and find hundreds of Wheaton photos and images on Artstor.

More Information
A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access
A factsheet by Peter Suber, the de facto leader of the OA movement

How Open Is It?
A collaborative document from the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC®), and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).

The Open Access Directory
"A compendium of simple factual lists about open access (OA) to science and scholarship, maintained by the OA community at large."

Open Access Explained
A video by PhD Comics.

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship
This 2018 film "dives into the need for open access to research and science, questions the rationale behind the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, examines the 35-40% profit margin associated with the top academic publisher Elsevier and looks at how that profit margin is often greater than some of the most profitable tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google."

Open Access to Scholarly and Scientific Research Articles
A factsheet from SPARC®, an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system.

Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Open Access
"A reference point for all stakeholders to clarify basic doubts in the field of Open Access" from UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
BioMed Central Unrestricted Resource
A pioneer of open access publishing, BMC has an evolving portfolio of high quality peer-reviewed journals including broad interest titles such as BMC Biology and BMC Medicine, specialist journals such as Malaria Journal and Microbiome, and the BMC Series.

CGP (Catalog of U.S. Government Publications) Unrestricted Resource
Indexes print and electronic publications of the U.S. government, the world's largest publisher. 1976 - present.

Digital Public Library of America [DPLA] Unrestricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images Resource contains video Resource contains audio
Aggregates digital collections from various institutions across the United States and serves as both a simple search portal and as a development platform with which online exhibitions etc. can be built. 

DigiZeitschriften Unrestricted Resource Some full text available
Provides text and images from the back issues of over 100 periodicals in economics, English languages, geology, Germanic languages, history, law, librarianship, philology, Romance languages, the sciences, and sociology. (Mostly in German.)

Directory of Open Access Books Unrestricted Resource
The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of Open Access books. It contains records for over 13027 academic peer-reviewed books and chapters from 282 publishers.

Directory of Open Access Journals Unrestricted Resource
DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. It contains over 12,195 journals, 9,190 searchable at article level, from 128 countries and containing 3,438,514 articles.

European Union Open Data Portal Unrestricted Resource
Open data repository of the European Union; contains a wealth of data on subjects including business and economics, energy and the environment, and labor and social issues. 

Latin American Open Archives Portal Unrestricted Resource
The Latin American Open Archives Portal (LAOAP) is a project of the Latin American Research Resources Project, in collaboration with the Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC) to improve access to social sciences grey literature produced in Latin America. The portal provides access to working documents, pre-prints, research papers, statistical documents and other difficult to access materials from the "deep web".

Modern Languages Open Unrestricted Resource
Modern Languages Open (MLO) is a peer-reviewed platform for the open access publication of research from across the modern languages to a global audience. Current sections are Chinese/Asian languages, French and Francophone, German Studies, Hispanic Studies, Italian, Portuguese and Lusophone, Russian and Eastern European Languages and Comparative Literature.

Open Access Theses and Dissertations Unrestricted Resource
OATD.org aims to be the best possible resource for finding open access graduate theses and dissertations published around the world. Metadata (information about the theses) comes from over 1100 colleges, universities, and research institutions. OATD currently indexes over 4,672,910 theses and dissertations.

Open Directory of Open Access Repositories Unrestricted Resource
OpenDOAR is the quality-assured global directory of academic open access repositories. It enables the identification, browsing and search for repositories, based on a range of features, such as location, software or type of material held. Tools and support enable both repository administrators and service providers to share best practice and improve the quality of the repository infrastructure.

Open Dissertations Unrestricted Resource Some full text available
OpenDissertations is an open-access database built to assist researchers in locating both historic and contemporary dissertations and theses.

Open Library of Humanities Unrestricted Resource
The Open Library of Humanities is a non-profit open access publisher for the humanities and social sciences. It includes titles such as 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, Comics Grid: The Journal of Comics Scholarship and The Theoretical Roman Archaeology Journal.

Public Library of Science Unrestricted Resource
PLOS was founded as a nonprofit Open Access publisher, innovator and advocacy organization with a mission to advance progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. PLOS publishes a suite of seven peer-reviewed Open Access journals featuring quality research, expert commentary and critical analysis across all areas of science and medicine.

PubMed Unrestricted Resource Some full text availableopenURL
Comprehensive index to scholarship of life sciences and biomedicine. Compiled by the U.S. National Library of Medicine; links to subscription-based and free full text articles; 1950 - present. 

Social Science Open Access Repository (SSOAR) Unrestricted Resource
Database containing over 48,000 open-access social science articles and papers.

Women Working: Harvard Open Collections Unrestricted Resource
Focuses on women's role in the United States economy and provides access to digitized historical, manuscript and image resources selected from Harvard University's library and museum collections.
Creative Commons License Chooser
An easy-to-use tool that will help you choose the Creative Commons license that works for you.

Unpaywall Browser Extension
This browser extension is available for Firefox and Chrome. If you see a paywalled scholarly article, Unpaywall.org will search its database of over 21 million Open Access articles. If there’s an open version somewhere, just click on the green tab to be directed to that copy.

Consider using Archive.org to host your digital content. Unlike the “attention merchants” at YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, Archive.org does not monetize your content, and allows you to choose the Creative Commons license that works for you.

Google Dataset Search
Google Dataset Search is a search engine from Google that helps researchers locate online data that is freely available for use.

Academic Torrents
distributed system for sharing enormous datasets - for researchers, by researchers. The result is a scalable, secure, and fault-tolerant repository for data, with blazing fast download speeds.
Subject Specialist
Picture: Kate Boylan

Kate Boylan
Director, Archives & Digital Initiatives
Tel: (508) 286 5821

Picture: Thomas San Filippo

Thomas San Filippo
Systems and Educational Technology Liaison
Tel: (508) 286 5601

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