Library Tips: Open Access

Library Tips

What is Open Access? Open Access (OA) refers to literature which is published "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions," according to Peter Suber of Open Access.  Open Access doesn't tell you if a publication is peer-reviewed or give any other indicators of quality. As the Internet continues to shift the publishing landscape, many have made ethical and pragmatic arguments advocating for OA publication. Proponents argue that OA can reduce access barriers to research, accelerate research productivity, and have increased impact. Grant-funded research often requires some part of the research to be available to the public through open access publication or data archiving. If you're interested in finding a specific funder's policies for your publications, the Sherpa/Juliet Researcher's Funder Open Access Policies database is a great place to look up an organization.

Many databases that the USC Libraries provide access to are only available while you are a current student, staff, or faculty member due to licensing restrictions and cost. OA materials, on the other hand, are available to everyone around the world. Some key places to find OA materials are:

  • arXiv

  • Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

  • OpenDoar

Learn more as the USC Libraries observe International Open Access Week the week of October 19. In two panel discussions, experts will disucss the potential benefits, complications, and challenges surrounding open access to scholarly information. Learn more at