Frequently Asked Questions

What is Open Access?

As defined by SPARC, "Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment."

See also "A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access", by Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, and this short video explaining Open Access.

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Why should I care about Open Access?

Many people benefit from Open Access to research. Here are but a few examples:


  • Increases research impact
  • Permits scholars and researchers to retain copyright in their own work, rather than transferring control to publishers
  • Eliminates access barriers to research and scholarly work (i.e., the need to pay for subscriptions)
  • Complies with the requirements of many government and private research funders. Please consult this list of US funding body requirements


  • Offers an opportunity to engage in academic publishing and new technology
  • Enables access to the full range of available knowledge, rather than only what the student (or their school) can afford
  • Contributes to a better-educated workforce


  • Provides access to previously unavailable materials relating to health, energy, the environment, and other areas of broad interest
  • Promotes accountability, by offering access to research that wouldn't be otherwise available to people with no official affiliation to UW
  • Encourages support of scientific enterprise and engagement in citizen science

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How does Open Access work and how might I participate?

Open Access has many facets and one may participate in many ways

Open Access Publishing:

Authors can choose to publish their research articles in a growing number of journals that meet the full definition of Open Access. Articles are free to all interested readers, and the publishers place no financial or copyright barriers between the readers and the article. Open Access publishing is the fastest growing segment of the scholarly publishing market, and high-quality journal options are now available for nearly every area of research.

In the absence of subscription revenue, many Open Access journals fund their operations through grants and subsidies, while some charge fees to authors (known as Article Processing Charges) to cover the costs of publication. Normally, such fees will be waived in cases of financial hardship. Reputable Open Access journals apply the same rigorous peer-review process to submitted articles as subscription journals; however, some "predatory" publishers have been known to collect fees to publish articles with little or no quality control. Authors are advised to carefully consider indicators of the quality of a journal before submitting their work.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) provides a comprehensive list of peer-reviewed Open Access research journals. DOAJ awards a Seal of Approval to those journals that follow best practices for transparency and publishing standards.

Institutional Repositories:

Authors can choose to deposit their research articles in UW's institutional repository, WySR, which conforms to the standards of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI), and enables readers to freely access and fully reuse the article text. This allows any author to make their work available under Open Access conditions regardless of the journal in which the article is published. There are more than 2,000 open Digital/Institutional Repositories available for authors to use around the world, and a comprehensive listing of is available through the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR).

Effectively Managed Author Rights:

As the author of a research paper, you have ability to ensure that your article can be accessed and used by the widest possible audience. Fill out an Addendum to traditional Copyright Transfer Forms to retain your copyright. There are also proven resources that can help you understand open licenses, and to publish your articles under full Open Access conditions.

Local, National and International Open Access Policies:

Institutions that support research, from public and private research funders to higher education institutions, can implement effective policies that support making Open Access to scholarly research articles the default mode for their researchers. Learn more about these policies on the SPARC Advocacy page.

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Who should I contact if I have specific questions?

If you have specific questions about WySR contact Chad Hutchens (307-766-5560) in the UW Libraries' Digital Collections Office at or your Library Liaison

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