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Open access publishing

This guide introduces open access, its benefits, the different models, APCs, policies and resources, and OA @ RMIT University.

Ready to publish OA?


Library Read and Publish Agreements

The Library has signed up to several transformative agreements to support open access publishing.  These allow you to publish openly in selected journals, free of article processing charges.

Find out more

Upcoming Research Spotlights

Library Research Spotlight's - Completed for 2023. 

Look out for the 2024 Spotlight here early next year.


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What is open access?

Open Access (OA) research literature is free online access to the outputs of publicly funded research.

This includes journal articles, conference papers, theses, reports, and any other outputs. Users may read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full-text, or use them for any other lawful purpose.

Open access literature increases the potential readership beyond those with research library affiliations or journal subscriptions.

"Open Access Explained!" by Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

To find out more about the practice of open research, see Open Research Library Guide.

Open access versus open educational resources - what's the difference?

Open access publications and open educational resources have fundamental common features.  They are:

  • always free to access, without cost
  • always without restrictions such as passwords or login credentials
  • usually online, but may also be analogue.

The differences lie in their purpose and types of materials, and consequently the kinds of permissions allowed for use and reuse.

Open access (OA): research

Open educational resources (OER): teaching

Purpose: scholarly works primarily created to document new knowledge and advance the scholarly conversation.

Purpose: codified knowledge used for teaching, learning and stimulating discourse.

Formats: scholarly books, journal articles, theses, conference papers, creative works, research data, and other non-traditional research outputs. Formats: videos, software, textbooks, assessment resources, teaching guides, images and figures, simulations etc.

Permissions: Creative Commons licence may be applied, allowing reuse or adaption.

Permissions: Creative Commons licence usually applied. Customisation often permitted.

Gold, Hybrid and Green models

There are several models of open access publishing.


Gold Open Access




  • Publish in a fully Open Access journal.
  • This route may involve a charge but ensures immediate and permanent access to the work. The publication cost, known as an APC (Article Processing Charge), is either covered by the author/s or their institution.
  • Some researchers, intent on ensuring OA for their work, include anticipated APC costs in their list of funding requirements in grant applications.
  • A list of fully open access journals can be found on the DOAJ website.

"Gold open access logo" is in the Public Domain, CC0

  Hybrid Open Access


  • Publish in a 'hybrid' journal. 
  • These journals are subscription journals that allow open access for individual articles on payment of a fee (APC).
  • This fee is payable by the author/s or their institution.
  • Note: Some journal websites will refer to this option as Gold Open Access as the content is immediately available, but true Gold Open Access refers only to a publication in a fully open access journal.

“Hybrid open access logo” is in the Public Domain, CC0

  Green Open Access


  • Publish in a subscription-based journal with the full-text deposited into a trusted repository, i.e. a publicly accessible database managed by a research institution (such as RMIT's Research Repository).
  • This route relies on publishers allowing an author to share an earlier version of the work, whilst the publisher maintains ownership of the final published version.

“Green open access logo” is in the Public Domain, CC0

  Bronze Open Access
  • Freely available journal article, either on a temporary or permanent basis
  • No open licence applied ie. another (publisher-specific) licence other than a Creative Commons license or no license at all.

Benefits of open access

Open Access and average citations at RMIT

RMIT publications 2008-2022 per average scholar citations

Data from (22 February 2023) show that Open Access publications by RMIT researchers consistently average more citations than non-open access publications.


"RMIT publications 2008-2022 per average scholar citations"  by is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

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