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Creative Commons: OA and OER


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Open Access

Open Access Logo

Open Access (OA) describes research literature that is free and available "on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of [research] articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself," according the Budapest Open Access Initiative

"The only constraint on reproduction and distribution and the only role for copyright in this domain should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”

The OA model includes the following components:

  • Authors keep their copyright. 
  • There is no embargo period.
  • Research data is shared with the article.
  • A Creative Commons license is added to the research article enabling text and data mining.

Remember, while OA is "free" to access, there are still costs for the author to publish the work.


Open Access Explained by Piled High and Deeper (PHD Comics) on Youtube

Open Access Options

Green OA  ​

Green OA is one of the ways an Open Access author can publish. The author makes a version of the manuscript freely available in a repository. An example of Green OA, also known as self-archiving, is the university research depository. OA repositories can be organized by discipline, such as the Digital Archaeological Record, or by institution, such as Coastal Scholar Repository at College of Coastal Georgia.

Gold OA

Another way an Open Access might publish is Gold OA. The final version of the manuscript is made freely available immediately upon publication by the publisher. The manuscripts typically are published in an Open Access journal under an open license. Open Access journals usually charge an Article Processing Charge when an author wishes to retain copyright and publish an article online allowing for free public access.

Open Access and Open Educational Resources

What is the difference? 

Open Access (OA) describes scholarly literature that is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. 

Open Educational Resources (OER), on the other hand, are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium -- articles, lesson plans, course materials, audio/video recordings, etc. -- that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license permitting no-cost access, use, adaptation, and redistribution by others. (Look for materials with the open Creative Commons licenses CC BYCCY-SA, CCBY-NCor CC BY-NC-SA.)

While OA and OER are created for different purposes, both OA and OER are vital for reducing or eliminating legal and financial barriers to education and the open exchange of ideas. Open Access articles can be part of the mix of resources used in OER.

current funding cycle for research articles   


Optimized funding cycles for research articles

Research Article Cycles,” by Billymeinke. CC BY 4.0.

Get Involved!


Creative Commons heart

This Research Guide was created by librarian Michele Nicole Johnson in Fall 2019 as part of her course requirements for Creative Commons certification. Would you like to get involved in creating a collaborative global commons? There are several ways, including:



Creative Commons License

This Research Guide is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License 

Related Guides

Open Educational Resources

The 5Rs of Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under open licenses that permit no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others.

OER can be freely downloaded, edited, and shared, and have the following characteristics known as the 5Rs:

  • Retain – The user has permission to make, own, and control copies of the content.
  • Reuse – The content can be used in a wide range of ways such as in a class, study group, on a website, or in a video.
  • Revise – The content can be adapted, adjusted, modified, or altered which includes translated into another language.
  • Remix – The user may combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new.
  • Redistribute – Copies of the original content, revisions, or remixes may be shared with others.

Look for resources in the public domain or with Creative Commons licenses that permit the creation of derivative works. Those licenses are CC BYCC BY-SACC BY-NC, or CC BY-NC-SA.

Attribution: The 5Rs are attributed to David Wiley, Education Fellow at Creative Commons and Chief Academic Officer at Lumen Learning. The graphic is was created by Michele N. Johnson, using a derivative of an open book icon by Vectors Point at Noun ProjectCC BY