Open Access (OA) Resources

A guide to freely accessible scholarship on the internet, including ebooks, journal articles, images, and manuscripts.

What is Open Access (OA)?

There are databases and collections of journals in Spartan Search, the MKL catalog and discovery system that are open access (known also as OA). You may have come across an open access article while conducting library research or searching the internet and not have known it.

Here's a definition of what Open Access is from UNESCO:

"Open access (OA) means free access to information and unrestricted use of electronic resources for everyone. Any kind of digital content can be OA, from texts and data to software, audio, video, and multi-media. While most of these are related to text only, a growing number are integrating text with images, data, and executable code. OA can also apply to non-scholarly content, like music, movies, and novels."

Essentially, OA is any digital content that is free to read/view and often has various re-use rights. Scholarly OA resources commonly have the same standards of peer review, quality, and research impact as traditional publishing.

Because they are free, OA journals are published differently than traditional subscription journals. Read more about that on the Scholarly Communication Guide.

There is a body of scholarly teaching resources that is open for educators and students to use in the classroom. Find out more in the Open Educational Resources Guide (OER).

Some OA publishing can be exploitative. While this is in the minority, learn about how to spot these journals in the Predatory Open Access Publishers Guide.

Why Open Access?

You may have questions about the benefits of open access scholarship. Most OA publishers have the same peer-review processes as the traditional publishing models. If you are unsure about the quality of a publication, a librarian can help you assess.

Here are some of the benefits of making your work open:

  • Increased citation count
  • Unrestricted access (open to all)
  • Wider audience accessibility (an equitable platform)
  • Immediate discovery, collaboration, and impact

PLOS has a succinct argument for why they are open access:

Why Open Access matters

Most publishers own the rights to the articles in their journals–not the authors. Anyone who wants to read the articles pays a fee to access them. Institutions and libraries help provide access to paywalled research through costly negotiations. Even then, no part of the article can be reused by researchers, students, or taxpayers without permission from the publisher, often at the cost of an additional fee.

Open Access returns us to the values of science: to help advance and improve society.

By providing immediate and unrestricted access to the latest research, we can accelerate discovery and create a more equitable system of knowledge that is open to all.

OA Cross-Search

There are hundreds of OA collections online. Use the Listing of Open Access DataBases (LOADB) to start your search if you're not sure where to begin. The DOAJ is another good place to start for articles.

Creative Commons

You will see a Creative Commons license attached to many OA materials. What is Creative Commons and what is a CC license?

"Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that helps overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s pressing challenges. Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law."

If you create a work, you can attribute a CC license onto that work. There are 6 licenses that identifies how a work can be credited, shared, used, profited from, or remixed. See all the licenses here.

Use the CC License Chooser to assign a license. This is a step by step guide to help you understand which license works best for your open access text, video, or other material.

Here are some of the icons you will come across that indicate what the license is all about:

Creative Commons

BY - Credit must be given to the creator

ND - No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted

NC - Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted

Here's an example of a license:

Citing OA

Just because something is free doesn't necessarily mean you can use it without proper attribution. Whenever you find an article, an image, or a data-set online, you need to cite it when using the source in your research.

Here is a list of useful citation websites. You can cite open access materials in any format in all bibliographic styles.

The Online Writing Lab at Purdue (OWL Purdue) - Excellent resource. In addition to their up-to-date versions of the most popular citation styles, they also host a number of helpful handouts dealing with writing and grammar.

CSE (Council of Science Editors) - Citation and style often used with the natural sciences. This quick citation guide provided by PennState University Libraries.

CitationMachine, EasyBib, BibMe, etc. - These online tools can be helpful, but it's always best to check your citations against the official models available at OWL Purdue, or the stylebooks available in the library (ask at the Circulation Desk).

RefWorks - A bibliographic management tool that's supported by UT.

Citing government information - A helpful site from West Texas A&M on citing government information.

Citing laws - Introduction to Basic Legal Citation from Cornell Legal Information Institute


Recommended Reading

Macdonald-Kelce Library - The University of Tampa - 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. - Tampa, FL 33606 - 813 257-3056 - library@ut.edu - Accessibility