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Frequently Asked Questions
Peter Suber, in his freely-available online book Open Access, offers the following definition:
“Open access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” (Suber, 4)
The term “open access” is now widely used in at least two senses. For some, OA literature is digital, online, and free of charge. This is referred to as gratis OA, as it removes price barriers but not permission barriers. For others, OA literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of unnecessary copyright and licensing restrictions. This form of open access is called libre OA, as it removes both price barriers and permission barriers. It allows reuse rights which exceed fair use. Journals that support libre OA often make use of Creative Commons licensing.
Many open access journal providers provide libre OA, but others may only provide gratis OA. For the purpose of the Tri-Council Open Access Policy on Publications, either interpretation of OA will suffice.
A number of studies have shown that openly accessible publications are cited more frequently, although there is some controversy in this area . Steve Lawrence’s early study results indicated that the citation count of computer science papers tripled with free online access, and Michael Kuntz’s study on astronomy literature found that open access can double the readership of articles. A summary of all citation impact studies can be found at eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/18516. The increased citation impact found in these studies is a direct result of the authors making their work open access so that more people can read and cite it.
In summary, open access offers the following benefits:
- OA promotes equitable access to research for scholars and the global public
- OA increases the dissemination of research works, which in return enhances the impact of research (citation count, reputation, visibility, etc.).
- OA offers research greater control of their published work, for example, distributing one’s work to colleagues and students
- Self-archiving of preprints allows one’s work to be accessible before it is officially published. This strategy allows researchers to claim a particular finding in a timely way and is helpful in disciplines where advances happen at a rapid pace
- OA reduces the costs for students to access teaching and research materials and for libraries to acquire materials.
For more information on the benefits of open access, “Why Open Access to Research and Scholarship?” by John Willinsky is an excellent resource.
Canadian Association of Research Libraries, (2017). Open Access.
SPARC. (2010). Digital repositories offer many practical benefits.
Chan, L. & Swan, A. (2010). Benefits of Open Access for research dissemination.
Suber, P. (2012). Open Access. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
From the moment an author first creates a work, they become the original copyright holder of that work and retain control over how it is used. As the author of an article, book chapter or other scholarly output, you are automatically the copyright holder unless and until you transfer the copyright to someone else in a signed agreement. Normally, the copyright holder possesses the exclusive rights of reproduction, distribution, public performance, public display, and modification of their original work. An author who has transferred copyright without retaining these rights must ask permission unless the use is one of the statutory exemptions in copyright law. 
Publisher agreements routinely ask authors to transfer copyright and associated author rights over to them once an item is to be formally published. Authors wishing or needing to retain certain author rights should carefully review the terms of their agreement with a publisher and expect to negotiate directly with publishers. Authors that have already published and want to know their publisher’s copyright policies can use the SHERPA/RoMEO database to run a search by publisher or journal.
To learn more about your author rights or options for negotiating with publishers, contact the Libraries at email@example.com to make an appointment or consult the below resources:
 Adapted from Author Rights: Using the SPARC Author Addendum. SPARC. (CC BY 4.0) Retrieved from https://sparcopen.org/our-work/author-rights/brochure-html/
Researchers wishing to self-archive by depositing a copy of an article in YorkSpace can forward a copy of their author-accepted manuscript along with the full citation for their paper (including the DOI of your paper) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Authors can also process a deposit themselves by registering with YorkSpace and following deposit instructions.
York University Libraries continues to fund open access publishing and open scholarship efforts at the University and in Canada through initiatives such as:
- agreements with various publishers to secure discounts for York authors that incur author processing charges for publishing in open access (see full list below);
- memberships and funding commitments with leading open scholarship infrastructure organizations such as the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS);
- provision of digital publishing support through York University Digital Journals program;
- management of YorkSpace, York University’s institutional repository, and associated open access publishing support services;
- an open access author fund, which, subject to the availability of funds, can help support processing charges for papers accepted for publication in fully open access journals (currently closed for rest of fiscal year 2020-2021);
- campus partnerships with the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation, and the Office of Research Services.
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- Understanding green and gold open publishing (includes how to meet Tri-Council open access requirements)
- Copyright information for authors (copyright, author addenda, takedown notices)
- Investments in open access publishing at the Libraries (includes information on publisher discounts)
- Choosing an appropriate journal for publishing research (includes open access options and information on predatory publishers)
- Open access monographs
- Leveraging technological infrastructure to maximize indexing, visibility and exposure