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Open Access

This guide provides an overview of open access, including green open access, gold open access, funder open access policies, and open access at Penn State.

PSU Open Access Policies

On April 23, 2019, the Penn State Faculty Senate voted to endorse the Open Access Policy Recommendations from the University’s Open Access Task Force and the Senate Committee on Libraries, Information Systems, and Technology. The policy, AC02: Open Access to Scholarly Articles, has been approved by the president of the university and went into effect on January 1, 2020.

To learn more about AC02, make your articles open, or get a waiver, please visit the Libraries' Open Access Policy website.

Previously, in February 2015, the Library Faculty Organization of the Penn State University Libraries passed an Open Access Policy, and in April 2015, the University Faculty Senate passed an Open Access Resolution.

PSU Libraries' Support for Open Initiatives

The Libraries provide financial support for a variety of open initiatives supporting open access, open data, open publishing, open education, open research, and open source. This support is part of a broader effort at the Libraries to use the power of openness to support the University’s teaching and research mission.

Shared Core Non-Profit Infrastructure

Open Content Investments

Organizations That Support Open Initiatives

Open Access Policies: An Introduction from COAPI

2015 PSU Faculty Senate Open Access Resolution

Faculty Senate Resolution on Open Access to Scholarly Publications

Appendix F



Rationale: Why Supporting Open Access Improves Access to Scholarship

This resolution calls upon Penn State faculty authors to consider and utilize available options for sharing our scholarly work with a wider audience of readers (such as educators, students, citizens, and independent researchers) who may not have access to expensive journal subscriptions or a research library. This proposed resolution is not, in any way, intended to limit our venues of publication or require us to take any specific action. Taking advantage of open access opportunities when possible leads to ease of discovery and helps our scholarly contributions achieve greater recognition and impact through increased readership and citations.

WHEREAS, the Faculty of the Pennsylvania State University are committed to producing and disseminating the results of our research and scholarship as broadly as possible in the public interest,

WHEREAS, the research mission of the University depends on the ability of faculty, staff, and students to readily access scholarly work

WHEREAS, publication of research in open access journals and repositories is now an increasingly effective option for disseminating and preserving scholarly communication

WHEREAS, open access to research increases the visibility, accessibility, and impact of a faculty member’s scholarly work and advances the interests of the scholarly community


The Faculty Senate strongly urges all University Faculty to:

  • Deposit their scholarly work in Scholarsphere ( the University’s repository, and/or any other appropriate repository (e.g., arXiv, PubMed Central, SSRN)
  • Support the principle of open access to research results while upholding quality and prestige in scholarly publishing
  • Review publishing contracts carefully to understand which rights are retained by the author and which rights are transferred to the publisher, and recognize that opportunities may exist to negotiate for more favorable terms
  • Consider publishing in and serving as peer reviewers and editors for reputable open access journals which make their contents freely available online


The topic of open access has been previously brought before the Faculty Senate:

March 2007 – The Penn State Faculty Senate passed a resolution in support of the CIC Provosts’ Statement on authors’ rights. That statement called for authors to review publishing agreements carefully before committing, to negotiate as needed to retain the redistribution right to their work, and to support the principle of the value of open access publishing models.  It includes a sample author addendum to publisher agreements. (

April 2013 – The Senate Committee on Libraries, Information Systems, and Technology provided a detailed Informational Report on Open Access, including definitions, an environmental scan, a review of publishing funding models, and trends in federal agencies’ requiring authors receiving funding to make the results of their research readily available. (

It is important to understand that:

  • While some open access journals require author publication fees, many do not. This resolution is not asking or expecting anyone to pay to publish in an open access journal since publication venue is an author’s decision to make.
  • Authors can often achieve open access by publishing in traditional (subscription-based or non-open access) journals, and then making a version of that work available in a repository like ScholarSphere.
  • All open access journals are free to consult and do not charge any fees to readers. They rely on other sources of financial support. Again, while some charge author fees, many do not.
  • This resolution urges faculty authors to carefully examine the agreements we sign or negotiate with publishers to understand how we may or may not use and share our work.

LIST Committee Members 2014-15:

  • Galen A. Grimes, Chair
  • Mahdi Nasereddin, Vice Chair
  • Jonathan Abel
  • Fred J. Aebli
  • Rose M. Baker
  • Rebecca Bascom
  • Daniel C. Beaver
  • Gordon W. Blood
  • Ann C. Clements
  • Peter J. Dendle
  • Barbara I. Dewey
  • Joseph L. Enama
  • John T. Harwood
  • Becky Kang
  • Amir Khalilollahi
  • Anna L. Mazzucato
  • Kevin M. Morooney
  • Terry O’Heron
  • Ira J. Ropson
  • Jennifer Sparrow
  • Stormy Stark
  • Eric A. Walker

Conclusion of Resolution Text


Accompanying Materials to Clarify Open Access Resolution

Common Questions & Concerns

Academic Freedom & Open Access

Under typical Open Access resolutions or policies adopted by faculty, including the one proposed here, faculty may continue to publish wherever they choose. No one else can make this decision about where to publish – only the author. Open access is about taking advantage of opportunities to reach the widest possible audience. It is not about limiting options.

Author Fees / Article Processing Charges (APC)

Some Gold Open Access journals require a payment from the author to cover publishing costs. In return, the publisher makes the article available for free on their website. The proposed resolution takes no position on whether authors should or should not pay author fees or author publication charges requested by publishers. This decision remains with the author as has always been the case.

“Quality” of Open Access Journals

A common misconception is that “open access” equates to less quality or less rigor when it comes to peer review and academic publishing standards.  This is not the case. There are many well established and highly respected open access journals.

It is true that some open access journals are of higher or lower quality than other journals. The same can be said of more traditional non-open access (subscription-based) journals. Authors and readers must exercise their best judgment when evaluating journal quality. This has always been the case.

How does open access affect my copyright on my work?

Distributing your work under an open access agreement generally does not require you to transfer or give away your full copyright or ownership. Authors will often grant an open access publisher a limited license to distribute the work, while retaining ownership and the ability to use the work in other ways. Refer to the individual publishers and their publishing policies for more specific details.

Will a journal publisher refuse to publish my article because of the Open Access resolution?
Will faculty be required to pursue Open Access options? 

This proposed resolution is not, in any way, intended to limit your venue of publication or require any specific action. It is a recommendation to consider all available opportunities for sharing your work with a wider audience of readers (such as educators, students, citizens, and independent researchers) who may not have access to expensive journal subscriptions or a research library.  Open access also has the potential to bring your scholarly contributions further recognition and impact via increased access and additional citations.

What if the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy applies to my article?

This mandatory policy is designed to increase access to publicly funded research information ( ).  It applies to any peer-reviewed manuscript accepted for publication in a journal on or after April 7, 2008 whose content arises from NIH direct funding. It requires deposit of a copy if the final peer reviewed manuscript in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central database within 12 months of the date of publication. This is a policy of the funding agency and complements this Resolution.   Penn State Hershey Library has additional information available at


Further Background on Open Access

In traditional publishing, readers and libraries pay or subscribe to journals in order to view digitally published articles. As expressed by Peter Suber in his research monograph Open Access (2012), this publishing method is defined as “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.”

There are a variety of ways to achieve open access.

  • Gold Open Access – This is achieved through Open Access journals that make content freely available online. Some may charge an author fee or article processing charge, but many do not.


  • College & Research Libraries – a gold open access journal that does not charge author fees
  • Online Journal of Issues in Nursing –
  • Cultural Anthropology (charges a small submission fee for nonmembers, $21)
  • Higher Education in Review
  • Green Open Access – This is accomplished by publishing in a closed access (subscription-based) journal, but then making a copy of the Author’s Final Version available in a repository like ScholarSphere. Many publisher agreements (including those from Elsevier, Wiley & Taylor & Francis) may allow authors to post the Author’s Final Version in an open access repository. Green Open Access involves no author fees or article processing charges. See an example of Green Open Access here:
  • Sharing a Version in a Repository or Personal Website

Author’s Final Version – The final version of an article submitted by the author to the publisher after all revisions have been completed. This is not the Publisher’s Final Version, which is often a PDF file, typeset, edited, and formatted in a certain style. Many publisher agreements allow authors to post the author’s final version (but not the Publisher’s Final Version) in an open access repository.  Sometimes referred to as a Postprint.

Publisher’s Final Version – Final or official version provided by a publisher. Often a PDF file, typeset, edited, and formatted in a certain style. Explicit permission is often needed to post this version in an open access repository.

Preprint – a draft or incomplete version of scholarly work, generally a research paper, not peer reviewed or submitted for publication. It can be self-archived or submitted to a repository and is sometimes presented in multiple edited versions while working toward a final product.

Postprint – draft of a research paper after peer review has happened.  Sometimes referred to as the Author’s Final Version.

Self-archiving – making a copy of one’s scholarly research freely available on the web, often in a repository.  Generally used in relation to journal articles but could be data, conference presentations, etc.

Repository – A digital collection or archive where documents or other data are collected, preserved, and made publicly available, often without charge. Examples include arXiv, ScholarSphere, GitHub, SSRN, and others. See .  An institutional repository generally collects, preserves and distributes the scholarly output of an institution’s members.

ScholarSphere – Penn State’s institutional repository. The content in ScholarSphere represents the research, scholarship, and intellectual output of the Penn State community that researchers have chosen to share. Through ScholarSphere, the work of Penn State researchers gains broader visibility and impact, and is archived for the future.  ScholarSphere captures scholarly content in any digital format including data, curricular materials, and creative works. Anyone with a PSU Access ID is encouraged to upload scholarly material. See


RoMEO is a searchable database of publishers’ policies on self-archiving of journal articles and selected conference series.  Each entry attempts to summarize a publisher’s or a journal’s standard policy, including what version of an article may be self-archived, and any conditions that are attached to that deposit. Almost 1,800 publishers are included to date, and about 75% allow some form of self-archiving.  RoMEO’s own database covers over 22,000 journals and also searches the Zetoc, DOAJ, and Entrez databases for additional journals.  Individual publisher websites will have current and definitive information. The Sherpa service itself is located at the University of Nottingham.

Directory of Open Access Publications (DOAJ) – one source of searchable information about journals that follow open access publishing principles.

The University Libraries has resources available to support authors following this resolution and to supply further information.