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Open Education Guide: Open access

This guide is designed to help the SPSCC community learn about Open Education. It will help faculty and staff find, create, evaluate, and incorporate open educational resources for instructional and training purposes.

What is open access?

Open access logo, public domainI want to know... what "open access" means.

On this "Open access" page:

  • learn what open access is
  • understand how "open access" is different from "open license"
  • browse open access repositories

What is open access?

Open access is usually a term associated with peer-reviewed journals, but it can be applied more generally, as well, to books and other materials. The open access symbol is a lock that has been opened.

Open access (OA) refers to online research outputs that are free of all restrictions on access (e.g. access tolls or subscriptions). Open access can be applied to all forms of published research output, including peer-reviewed and non peer-reviewed. 

How is "open access" different from "open license"?

Materials with an "open license" (e.g. Creative Commons licenses) are considered OER. Materials that are "open access" means they are freely available to view online without having to log in or pay a subscription fee. Open access materials are NOT necessarily openly licensed. Sometimes, open access materials are ALSO openly licensed, but you have to check the license or copyright info. In general, you can always link to open access materials, but you must check each site's terms of use for any further copyright or usage restrictions (e.g. restrictions on downloading or making copies of materials).

Open access repositories


Except where otherwise noted, the content in this page has been adapted from Faculty/Staff Guide to Open Educational Resources by Tacoma Community College Library, which is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0.