The term Open Access encompasses a variety of research contributions intended for dissemination to the research community. These can be broadly classified into two types:
(1) Open Access journals
(2) Open Access repositories or archives
The distinguishing characteristic between open access journals and repositories is that peer review is performed for journals and is not required for archives or repositories. The peer-review process allows articles published in open-access journals to retain a quality similar to traditional journals.
From the authors’ perspective, an additional advantage may be the ability to retain copyright in the case of certain journals.
Different categories of open-access journals are evolving depending on whether the article is accepted from a repository/archive, if the journal scope extends to inter- or multi-disciplinary topics, or whether there are different levels of journals embedded within a single one.
Open-access repositories are usually arranged by subject area (e.g. arXiv for Physics and other areas, CiteSeerx with a focus on computers and information science) or by institution. Although peer review is not performed, authors are limited in terms of how much they can contribute to a given repository. Both preprints and post-prints can be part of the repository.
In addition to preprints and post-prints, archives can host additional material like raw and processed data, audio/video files, dissertations or theses, lecture notes and other such content.
Open Access content can also be classified based on the rights of authors:
|Gold||Gives access to its research articles right after submission|
|Green||Permits authors to archive post-prints|
|Pale Green||Allows authors to archive preprints|
|Gray||None of the above|
The above classification was defined by Peter Suber. The gold/green classification is almost universally recognized, though there are other, slightly different versions of the color code.
More about various ways in which you can disseminate content through the open access mode can be found in future posts.