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Open Access

The different shades of OA
  • \(green\): The author deposits a copy of the manuscript within an institutional (or community-based) repository and the paper is published by the journal in the traditional (closed-access) way. Most publishers allow authors to deposit full-text versions of their manuscripts in such repositories immediately, or after an embargo period.
  • \(diamond\): Here the journal is freely accessible, and the author pays no Article Processing Charge (APC). These are non-commercial journals that mostly do not have a profit-imperative. They charge neither authors nor readers. One of the examples is SciPost, with a focus on Physics, Astronomy and Chemistry.
  • \(immediate\): Articles are universally accessible free of charge immediately upon publication. This \(sometimes\) requires authors to pay a fee (APC) to the publisher of the journal. Within academic publishing, any route typically includes peer-review. It can also follow the route of pre-print servers.
  • \(gold\), confusing terminology: some people call paid OA the 'gold' route, while others call immediate OA 'gold' (regardless of having to pay APC or not). This term of 'gold OA' should be avoided, and better to refer to 'paid immediate OA' or 'immediate OA'.
  • \(hybrid\): This is a variant of the immediate OA route, whereby the author pays a fee (APC) for a paper published in a traditional (closed-access) journal to be made immediately accessible. This includes framework agreements (sometimes called 'Read+Publish') such as those of VSNU or DEAL.
  • \(transitional\): Closed-access or hybrid journals are in the process towards going fully open-access. During the transitional period these journals may be considered to comply with OA requirements. Transitional period no longer than 5 years (typically). The Royal Society of Chemistry is one example: they announced in October 2022 that within 5 years all their journals will become fully OA.

  • \(closed\): The papers are only accessible to readers that have a subscription to the journal

Interesting reads

Stages of publishing


① Authors send manuscript (SV version)
② Revisions are requested (RVx version)
③ Journal accepts manuscript (AAM version)
④ Preliminary version is published online
⑤ Final version is published (VoR version)

If the journal allows publishing versions SV, RVx and AAM on a pre-print server, then these normally fulfill the OA requirements of funding agencies. There is no logic to forbidding the updating of pre-print versions.