Open access: OA models

How does OA work?

Usually publications are made accessible through open access by either publishing directly in an open access journal, known as 'gold' open access, or by 'self archiving' by the author which is also known as 'green' open access.

An author can choose to self archive publications in their institutional repository, such as the Research Outputs Repository, or in a discipline specific repository like PubMed Central, or in another type of open access website.

Open Access: Anytime, Anywhere

“I am pleased that papers I have published as Open Access can be read by anyone, anywhere, anytime.  This means that my work can be integrated and cited in future publications, which is really important”.

-- Dr Hannah Keage, School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy

Cost of Open Access

Gold OA material is free to access but not free to produce. The publishing business model moves the cost of publication (and access) away from the reader but towards the author or research funder. Fees can vary greatly from free to up to $4000 depending on the publication and the discipline. For a guide to publisher’s OA prices, see the list produced by University of California Berkeley Library. Please consult individual publisher’s websites for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

UniSA Library does not subsidise author publishing costs for any OA journals or publishers and does not have institutional membership to any OA publisher, except for the 2 publishers listed here:

  • MDPI institutional membership, which  provides 10% discount on article processing charges. MDPI publish in the sciences, health, business, and social sciences, see their list of journals.
  • BioMed Central and Springer Open - 15% discount applied for UniSA staff. Please submit using your UniSA email address and be in the IP network.

Check your research funding conditions regarding open access and article processing charges as this may be an acceptable expense

Green vs. Gold

How open access to research benefits us all, CC Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0 ( Source: flickr (

Gold open access

  • material is 'born OA'
  • free access is from the moment of publication
  • typically authors retain copyright
  • content often available under a Creative Commons or similar licence
  • often requires a fee per article to publish

Green open access

  • where publishers allow open access versions of non-OA material to be archived (e.g. pre-print, accepted manuscript)
  • accessible from institutional repositories (e.g. Research Outputs Repository) or subject/discipline repositories (e.g. PubMed)
  • can be the cheapest form of academic publishing (it is free for both author and user)

Other models

Variations on the green and gold open access models are usually determined by the publisher or based on the fee paid for publishing in an OA journal. Examples include:

Hybrid open access

  • authors decide how their articles are published in journals that offer traditional subscription as well as open access content
  • is based on a payment for publishing as open access from the moment of publication
  • authors generally retain copyright if paying for open access, and can usually archive the published version in institutional or subject repositories straightaway

Delayed open access

  • free access occurs after stipulated embargo period set by the journal
  • embargo length may vary from a few months to several years