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Open Access

This resource is licenced under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence by Claire Sewell, the Office of Scholarly Communication, Cambridge University Libraries.

Important note

Open Access is an area which changes quickly. All information in this module is correct at the time of writing (2019) but for the most up to date information on Open Access please visit the Cambridge Open Access website.


Welcome to this online resource introducing the basics of Open Access. Perhaps one of the biggest changes to scholarly publishing in recent years, Open Access seeks to make research results available for anyone to read. It is also one of the most visible elements of research support that library staff are likely to come across. The open publishing landscape is constantly changing in response to new developments in the sector and mandates issued by research funders. As a result this unit takes a deliberately broad approach to the topic to avoid giving inaccurate information. For those working in this area or who are interested in the topic it is recommended that they follow up on some of the resources mentioned in the Learn More box on the relevant page.

Time commitment

This unit should take between 30 - 40 minutes to complete.

This resource is aimed at academic library staff in the UK who are new to working in research support or need to refresh their knowledge of a particular topic. In many institutions research support may only be one part of a larger role and it can be hard to develop a knowledge of the basics. This resource is designed to fill in these potential gaps. Learners can work through the whole resource in sequence or just dip into individual units as they need to. All of the units begin with a clear outline of the topic together with a list of anticipated learning outcomes. Within each unit learners will find optional reflective activities which encourage them to think about how the topic in question relates to their own work environment. The scholarly communication landscape varies by country so although the basics will remain the same, learners from outside the UK should investigate their local policies and practices.

Learners can navigate through the unit in a number of ways. The ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons below can be used to move through the unit in a linear way, the tabs on the left of the screen will allow learners to jump to a particular page and the homepage can be reached at any time by using the ‘Return home’ button.


   This unit will cover the following topics:

  • What is Open Access?
  • Benefits of Open Access
  • Open terminology
  • Making work openly available
  • Open Access monographs


   At the end of this unit learners will:

  • Be able to define Open Access
  • Outline why it is important
  • Explain the benefits of Open Access
  • Be able to outline different open models
  • Understand the debates around publishing

Select the Next button below to move on to the next section of the unit.

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