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Open Access

Journal articles

Subscription-based journals

Although publishing in a subscription-based journal means that your work is available to individuals or institutions that subscribe to the journal, such articles can still be made open access.

Green open access, or self-archiving, involves uploading a version of your manuscript into an open access repository, making it freely accessible for everyone. Most publishers allow self-archiving, sometimes with an embargo period.

Subscription-based journals often ask authors to transfer copyright to the publisher and there may be restrictions on how the work can be re-used.


  • to check a journal or publisher’s copyright and self-archiving policy. Policies are colour coded (yellow, blue, green or white)
  • when considering where to publish and to verify publisher permissions after publication


Open access journals

Publishing in an open access journal makes the final version of an article immediately available on the publisher's website. This model, gold open access, is often associated with a payment to the publisher, or article processing charge (APC). Although APCs can vary widely in cost, many open access journals do not charge authors to publish. 

Gold OA usually refers to a journal that publishes all its content open access, such as PLOS ONE. In these journals, copyright is often retained by the author and there are typically less restrictions on re-use. 

Publishers sometimes offer authors the option of making a single article open access in a subscription-based journal, subject to paying an APC. This hybrid open access model is discouraged by UNSW. Hybrid represents a second income stream to publishers and has raised the issue of ‘double dipping’.

UNSW support for Open Access journal publishing

UNSW Library supports a number of open access publishing initiatives:

  • SCOAP3: UNSW is a partner in the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics. This partnership enables articles in high quality physics journals to be made openly accessible. Visit the SCOAP3 repository to access all articles sponsored by SCOAP3
  • arXiv: UNSW is an institutional member of arXiv, a repository of electronic pre-prints in physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering and systems science, and economics
  • Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI): UNSW is a member of the Institutional Open Access Program (IOAP) which entitles researchers to a 10% discount on APCs


Looking for a journal's copyright and self-archiving policy? Search the SHERPA/RoMEO database by journal title.


Looking for an Open Access journal? The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a centralised service for discovering reputable open access journals and publishers.


The AOASG journal options flowchart (pdf) can help you select a suitable open access publishing option for your journal article.

How open is it?

HowOpenIsIt? (download pdf) is a resource created by SPARC and PLOS to evaluate journal policies across six fundamental aspects of OA: reader rights, reuse rights, copyrights, author posting rights, automatic posting, and machine readability. 

Further support

Contact your Outreach Librarian.