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Guide to Open Access

Open Access (OA) is literature that is available free of charge on the Internet and is also free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. The move towards OA is a grass-roots response to the increasingly high cost of journals, which makes them difficult for libraries to afford and for users to access.

There have been several defining principles for OA. These include the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Principles, and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access. While they vary from each other somewhat, they all emphasize that OA means that the authors and copyright holders grant to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, and perpetual right to access the OA works. In addition, users can copy, use, distribute, and make derivative works, as long as proper attribution of authorship is given. An important aspect of the principles also dictates that a copy of the work is deposited immediately upon publication in at least one public online repository.

While access to OA articles is free, there are still costs involved. Most OA publishers use the "author pays" model, where the author of an accepted OA article pays the costs for editing and distribution. A variation of this model is an institutional membership, where the author's institution pays an annual membership fee to an OA publisher, and all authors from the institution get their payments for accepted articles either waived, or offered at a discount. In almost all cases, OA publishers make exceptions for authors who cannot afford to pay. Cornell faculty participate on editorial boards, serve as peer reviewers and submit articles for publication to OA journals, just like traditional journals.

The Weill Cornell Medical Library supports the concept of OA to information generated from federally funded scientific and medical research as part of its mission to provide access to timely, relevant, and accurate information. The Library provides multiple avenues to educate our scholarly community about OA publishing and encourages all other stakeholders in the scholarly communications process to contact the Library faculty or seek other opportunities to become involved. This web page provides information about this issue and links to several scholarly OA publishing resources.

Local Resources


Support Open Access Legislation

Statements and Policies

Publishing, Distribution, Alternative Modules and Resources

  • Author’s Addendum - SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. Retain the right to make your article available in a non-commercial open digital archive on the Web (such as the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed Central or your institution’s open digital archive) or to make copies of your article for use in the classes you teach if the publisher will allow modifications of their agreement.
  • BioMed Central - an independent publishing house committed to providing immediate free access to peer-reviewed biomedical research.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) - directory of free, full-text, quality controlled scientific & scholarly journals.
  • Public Library of Science (PLoS) - a nonprofit organization committed to making scientific and medical literature a public resource.
  • PubMed Central - a digital archive of life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), developed and managed by NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
  • Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) - tracking the size, growth and type of content of open access repositories worldwide.
  • Scholar's Copyright Project - Provides a suite of short amendments that authors may attach to the copyright transfer form used by publishing companies.
  • SHERPA : Publisher copyright policies & self-archiving - use this site to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement. “SHERPA is investigating issues in the future of scholarly communication and publishing. In particular, it is developing open-access institutional repositories in a number of research universities. These eprint repositories or archives facilitate the worldwide rapid and efficient dissemination of research findings”