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Open Access: Home

What is Open Access?

Open Access logo

Welcome to the Jennings Library guide to Open Access!  Open Access (OA) resources are scholarly resources that creators have chosen to make available for free on the Internet, often in scholarly journals or institutional repositories. Open Access benefits scholarly publishing and research by making available these resources to anyone in the world without restrictions based on costs or institutional affiliation.  Learn more about Open Access, various open licenses, and related issues on this page.  Then, check out the "Open Access Resources" tab to find open access articles, images, movies, and more.

What is Open Access?

Want to learn more about open access? Check out the links below!

Guide Author

This guide was created by Siobhan McCarthy and Lauren Fowler. It is currently being maintained by the Electronic Resources Librarian.

Open Access Explained

This 8-minute video from Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen (PHD Comics) provides an excellent (and entertaining) explanation of Open Access and why it's important.

Related Issues

Open Access is part of a broader movement to create a more open system of scholarly communication, promoting the availability of research data and teaching materials as well as scholarly articles.  Check out the links below to learn more about the Open Data and Open Educational Resources movements.

Creative Commons Licenses

Creators who wish to make their works open access often indicate which of their exclusive rights under copyright they retain and which rights they waive, through the use of various Creative Commons (CC) licenses.  If you want to reuse a CC-licensed work, it is important that you pay attention to the type of license, as it indicates the conditions under which you are allowed to reuse the work.  With all CC licenses, you are required to give credit (attribution) to the creator of the work.  The six licenses are: 

  • Attribution (CC BY): You can distribute and alter or build on the work, even commercially, as long as you give credit to the original creator.
  • Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA): You can distribute and alter or build on the work, even commercially, as long as you give credit to the original creator AND license your derivative work under the same terms.
  • Attribution-NoDerivatives (CC BY-ND): You can distribute the work, even commercially, if you give credit to the original creator, but must distribute the entire work without any alterations.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC): You can distribute and alter or build on the work, as long as you give credit to the original creator AND your use is non-commercial.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA): You can distribute and alter or build on the work, as long as you give credit to the original creator, license your derivative work under the same terms, AND your use is non-commercial.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (CC BY-NC-ND): You can distribute the work as long as you give credit to the original creator, distribute the entire work without any alterations, and do not use it commercially.

Creative Commons also offers a "CC0 tool" through which creators waive all of their exclusive rights and place their work in the public domain.  There are no conditions for using one of these public domain works, not even attribution.  However, we recommend that you do provide credit to the creator, in accordance with professional and academic standards.