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Open Access and Open Education

Open Access

Open Access (OA) materials are "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions" (Peter Suber). Open Access materials are accessible immediately, and can make knowledge accessible for everyone - students, communities, and subjects of research. They are also known to receive higher citation counts than materials from traditional publishers.

The University of San Francisco Faculty Association (USFFA) passed its Open Access Policy in 2018, allowing USF community members to publish their work as Open Access in the USF Scholarship Repository. USF community members are welcome to submit their research and creative works.

For a deep dive into Open Access, take a look at the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI), Bethesda StatementBerlin Declaration, Cape Town Declaration, or Peter Suber's long-form introduction to the framework.

Open Access Models

The two main types of Open Access used are Green or Gold OA:

  • Green OA - also known as "self-archiving", Green OA publications are published in an institutional repository or author's website. The versions published here are typically a preprint (author's manuscript before peer-review) or a postprint (final manuscript after peer-review, without publisher formatting).
  • Gold OA - after a traditional journal review process, works are published as Open Access in a journal or journal website, which immediately makes them available online, at no charge to readers. Many Open Access journals publish for free, although some charge article-processing charges (APCs) to authors or their institutions. 

Other tiers of "Open" exist, including:

  • Diamond or Platinum OA - works published as Open Access without fees to authors or readers.
  • Hybrid OA - in a hybrid OA journal, there is a mixture of Open Access and traditional (i.e., paywalled) articles. In addition to an institution or researcher paying a journal subscription fee, they are also required to pay an APC in order to make their work Open Access.
  • Bronze OA - a publisher chooses to make an article free-to-read, without applying an Open Access license to the material. This means the publisher can revoke access at any time, and users cannot apply the 5 Rs to the material.
  • Black OA - works are made freely available online, regardless of copyright restrictions or author consent (e.g., Sci-Hub, Library Genesis, 12ft).
  • Gratis OA - works that are available to read for no charge, but do not have reuse rights.
  • Libre OA - works that are free to read, and generally have reuse rights for users.


When using Open Access resources or pedagogy, you may need to interpret various permissions licenses, including copyright, public domain, and Creative Commons licenses. For more in-depth advice on copyright, contact any of our Copyright Specialists.

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