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Here are some key terms about open access. Please email the DRO Team for further details or to suggest new terms to add.

Open Access (OA)

Free, online availability of research results and outputs to everyone. Until recently, usually referred to just journal articles and conference papers. However, now the scope has widened to include books, book chapters and the underpinning research data itself. The rationale behind OA is that by sharing research findings, better research will be conducted, with consequent benefits for economies and society more generally.

8.27 minute YouTube video provides a useful introduction to OA.

Article Processing Charge (APC)

Fee paid to a publisher to make the published version of a journal article freely available from the publisher's own website. Prices vary, but it's usually between £1.5-£2K exclusive of 20% VAT. The APC is paid in addition to any normal page or colour printing charge. Researchers are strongly advised to check if their funder or institution provides any specific funding to cover APCs. Preferably before they commit themselves to paying.

Creative Commons (CC) Licences

A set of licences under which 'content creators' can publish their work. There are 8 main types of licence to choose from, each one detailing what any user of the content can and cannot do with it. For example, some CC licences permit commercial re-use, whilst others specify non-commercial use only.

Please note, that CC licences are not an alternative to copyright. Choosing to publish under a CC licence does not necessarily mean that the copyright holder gives away their copyright. They can retain it, but give permission for other, limited uses to be made of their work which are detailed in the licence.

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organisation based in California. There's a 3 minute video about the licences on their website.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

A string of letters and numbers which uniquely identifies an electronic object or document available on the Internet, such as a journal article, conference paper or book chapter. DOIs are usually found either on the publisher's website or in in the PDF of the document itself. DOIs always begin with the digits 10. For example, 10.1103/PhysRevD.86.010001

Create a stable, permanent link to the official version of an output by adding the DOI number to the prefix For example,

But please note, not all types of output necessarily have a DOI.

Gold open access

Free and immediate online availability of the final published version of an output from the publisher's own website. The name does imply that payment is required. However, it's not readers who are charged, but rather the author or more often their funder or home institution. But there are some journals and publishers which charge neither the reader nor the author. Try searching the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) for those which do not.

Green open access

Free availability of a version of an output from either a subject or institutional repository. The version is usually the final accepted, peer-reviewed manuscript rather than the final published version. This is because the author's copyright agreement with their publisher prohibits use of the file for this purpose. But although the manuscript may lack the polish of the published version, the content ought to be nearly the same. Most publishers also impose an embargo before the manuscript can be made openly available. Embargo periods usually range between 6-24 months.

No additional fee is paid to the publisher to permit Green open access.

Hybrid journal

Journal which contains a mix of articles, some of which are available only to subscribers, some freely available to everyone. Most large publishers now offer authors the option to pay an Article Processing Charge (APC) to permit anyone to read and download a 'Gold' open access article from their website. However, publishers stress that an author's willingness to pay does not influence the publisher's decision-making about which articles to publish.


Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID). It's a unique identifier for researchers to help distinguish them from other same-named researchers. Research funders and publishers are increasingly using ORCIDs. You may find you need to enter your ORCID in order to apply for a grant or submit an article for publication. It's free to register and get an ORCID. Although you need only enter your name and email address, it's best to add your affiliation too. If you've already got a Scopus ID or ResearcherID, you can link them to your ORCID.


Somewhat ambiguous term used for the final accepted, peer-reviewed manuscript that has been accepted for publication. 'Post' indicates that it is the version produced after peer-review and which incorporates changes suggested by reviewers and editors. A pre-print, by contrast, is the manuscript which was originally submitted for publication (ie pre peer-review)

However, some publishers use the term post-print to mean the published version. Researchers are advised to clarify terms when in discussion with their publishers about which version of their output can be made available on the web (if any), and where (eg personal website, subject or institutional repository). Or email the DRO Team for help.


Web service providing academic authors the means to provide bibliographic records or 'metadata' describing their research outputs, together with the option to upload a version of the full-text (copyright agreements permitting). Readers use the service to search and download content of interest to them.

Repositories are of three types: institutional, subject and funder. Many universities across the world, and most in the UK, have their own institutional repositories. They contain content produced by researchers employed at the particular institution. Subject repositories contain papers from a specific set of academic disciplines. For example, arXiv focuses on Physics, Computer Science and Mathematics papers and RePEc covers Economics. Some funding bodies such as the Natural Environment Council (NERC) operate their own repository, containing papers arising from research which they fund. Whereas the Wellcome Trust requires researchers whom they have supported to deposit in PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC).

Author self-archiving

Basically, Green open access. That is, authors depositing the 'best' version of their research output which their publisher will permit them to make available in an open access repository. Please note that the term is usually not understood to refer to making published versions of papers available on personal websites or services like ResearchGate.