Meaning of Open Access

Open Access (OA) publishing is a relatively recent model of publication that aims to provide unrestricted access to research content for individuals with internet connectivity. While offering numerous advantages, it also presents certain challenges. OA publishing transitions the cost burden from end-users, who traditionally subscribe to academic journals, to other entities such as authors, academic institutions, libraries, public funding agencies, and industry. More detailed information about OA publishing can be found [here].


In accordance with major definitions attributed to open access OA in scientific literature such as the Budapest, Berlin, and Bethesda declarations, NAJFNR defines open access by the following conditions:

  • peer-reviewed literature is freely available without subscription or price barriers;

  • literature is immediately released in open access format (no embargo period), and

  • published material can be re-used without obtaining permission as long as a correct citation to the original publication is given.

Because journal price rises over the last decades and most universities, especially from developing countries can no longer afford subscriptions to all of the journals that their academics need. ​We believe that open access publishing facilitates interdisciplinary research and encourages the exchange of results amongst scientists' communities worldwide, including those from developing countries. Hence, The North African Journal of Food and Nutrition Research publishes under the open access model which is guaranteed through the free and unlimited accessibility of the publication over the Internet. Everyone can freely access and download the full text of all published articles with NAJFNR. Readers and mostly other researchers, do not need to pay any subscription or pay-per-view charges to read published manuscripts. Open access publications are also more likely to be included in search engines and indexing databases.



Read the Budapest Open Access Initiative


An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.

For various reasons, this kind of free and unrestricted online availability, which we will call open access, has so far been limited to small portions of the journal literature. But even in these limited collections, many different initiatives have shown that open access is economically feasible, that it gives readers extraordinary power to find and make use of relevant literature, and that it gives authors and their works vast and measurable new visibility, readership, and impact. To secure these benefits for all, we call on all interested institutions and individuals to help open up access to the rest of this literature and remove the barriers, especially the price barriers, that stand in the way. The more who join the effort to advance this cause, the sooner we will all enjoy the benefits of open access.

The literature that should be freely accessible online is that which scholars give to the world without expectation of payment. Primarily, this category encompasses their peer-reviewed journal articles, but it also includes any unreviewed preprints that they might wish to put online for comment or to alert colleagues to important research findings. There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these 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. 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.

While  the peer-reviewed journal literature should be accessible online without cost to readers, it is not costless to produce. However, experiments show that the overall costs of providing open access to this literature are far lower than the costs of traditional forms of dissemination. With such an opportunity to save money and expand the scope of dissemination at the same time, there is today a strong incentive for professional associations, universities, libraries, foundations, and others to embrace open access as a means of advancing their missions. Achieving open access will require new cost recovery models and financing mechanisms, but the significantly lower overall cost of dissemination is a reason to be confident that the goal is attainable and not merely preferable or utopian.

To achieve open access to scholarly journal literature, we recommend two complementary strategies. 

I.  Self-Archiving: First, scholars need the tools and assistance to deposit their refereed journal articles in open electronic archives, a practice commonly called, self-archiving. When these archives conform to standards created by the Open Archives Initiative, then search engines and other tools can treat the separate archives as one. Users then need not know which archives exist or where they are located in order to find and make use of their contents.

II. Open-access Journals: Second, scholars need the means to launch a new generation of journals committed to open access, and to help existing journals that elect to make the transition to open access. Because journal articles should be disseminated as widely as possible, these new journals will no longer invoke copyright to restrict access to and use of the material they publish. Instead they will use copyright and other tools to ensure permanent open access to all the articles they publish. Because price is a barrier to access, these new journals will not charge subscription or access fees, and will turn to other methods for covering their expenses. There are many alternative sources of funds for this purpose, including the foundations and governments that fund research, the universities and laboratories that employ researchers, endowments set up by discipline or institution, friends of the cause of open access, profits from the sale of add-ons to the basic texts, funds freed up by the demise or cancellation of journals charging traditional subscription or access fees, or even contributions from the researchers themselves. There is no need to favor one of these solutions over the others for all disciplines or nations, and no need to stop looking for other, creative alternatives.

Open access to peer-reviewed journal literature is the goal. Self-archiving (I.) and a new generation of open-access journals (II.) are the ways to attain this goal. They are not only direct and effective means to this end, they are within the reach of scholars themselves, immediately, and need not wait on changes brought about by markets or legislation. While we endorse the two strategies just outlined, we also encourage experimentation with further ways to make the transition from the present methods of dissemination to open access. Flexibility, experimentation, and adaptation to local circumstances are the best ways to assure that progress in diverse settings will be rapid, secure, and long-lived.

The Open Society Institute, the foundation network founded by philanthropist George Soros, is committed to providing initial help and funding to realize this goal. It will use its resources and influence to extend and promote institutional self-archiving, to launch new open-access journals, and to help an open-access journal system become economically self-sustaining. While the Open Society Institute's commitment and resources are substantial, this initiative is very much in need of other organizations to lend their effort and resources.

We invite governments, universities, libraries, journal editors, publishers, foundations, learned societies, professional associations, and individual scholars who share our vision to join us in the task of removing the barriers to open access and building a future in which research and education in every part of the world are that much more free to flourish.

February 14, 2002
Budapest, Hungary



Leslie Chan: Bioline International
Darius Cuplinskas: Director, Information Program, Open Society Institute
Michael Eisen: Public Library of Science
Fred Friend: Director Scholarly Communication, University College London
Yana Genova: Next Page Foundation
Jean-Claude Guédon: University of Montreal
Melissa Hagemann: Program Officer, Information Program, Open Society Institute
Stevan Harnad: Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Southampton, Universite du Quebec a Montreal
Rick Johnson: Director, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)
Rima Kupryte: Open Society Institute
Manfredi La Manna: Electronic Society for Social Scientists 
István Rév: Open Society Institute, Open Society Archives
Monika Segbert: eIFL Project consultant 
Sidnei de Souza: Informatics Director at CRIA, Bioline International
Peter Suber: Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College & The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter
Jan Velterop: Publisher, BioMed Central.


Why Open Access?

Open access offers numerous benefits:


Types of Open Access

1. Green Open Access (Self-Archiving)

Green open access allows authors to share their work openly, whether on their personal website or in an institutional or disciplinary repository. This approach complies with publisher policies, which grant authors permission to share their work ("green light"). Green open access offers two main advantages: it can be achieved across a variety of publishing venues, and it typically does not involve any fees.

Most scholarly publishers permit authors to share some version of their work, although certain conditions may apply, including:

  • Restrictions on which version of the work may be shared.
  • Limitations on when the work can be shared.

For example, publishers might prohibit sharing the formatted PDF but allow sharing of the accepted manuscript (post-print) or the submitted manuscript (pre-print). Accepted manuscripts closely resemble the published version and have undergone peer review, whereas submitted manuscripts have not yet been peer-reviewed but offer a quicker route to dissemination.

Publishers often impose embargoes, delaying sharing for a specified period that varies by discipline (usually six months to two years).

Navigating publisher policies can be challenging, but resources such as Sherpa/Romeo and Share Your Paper provide guidance. If you are unsure, consult the publisher's website or seek advice from a scholarly communication librarian.

For repository options:

  • Explore disciplinary repositories.
  • Refer to the general directory, OpenDOAR.
  • Consider where others in your field are sharing their work.

Academic social networks like and ResearchGate may not be recommended due to potential data-selling practices and take-down notices from publishers. Some publishers explicitly exclude these platforms from their sharing policies.



2. Gold Open Access

Gold open access allows works to be openly available directly through the publisher. This approach offers benefits such as immediate access and easy discoverability of open articles and chapters on the publisher's website. Gold open access works are often assigned a Creative Commons license, enabling reuse and facilitating green open access.

While gold open access may involve author fees (APCs for articles or BPCs for books), many publishers use a "hybrid" model where only specific articles are open access upon author payment, while the journal maintains a subscription model. These fees may be covered by authors' funders, institutions, or libraries. Authors intending to publish in APC-supported journals should consider including these costs in grant proposals.

Open access publishing without author fees is known as "diamond" or "platinum" open access and can be supported by societies, institutions, or other funding sources. The "subscribe to open" model is emerging, where libraries can subscribe to backlists, allowing future publications to be open access if enough libraries participate.



To find gold open access publishers, use these tools:

  • DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) for open access journals. Search for journals without article processing charges (APCs) using the filter.
  • DOAB (Directory of Open Access Books) for open access books.


3. Hybrid Open Access

Hybrid open-access journals publish a mix of OA and closed access articles. In this model, a publisher is partially funded by subscription fees, and only individual articles for which the authors or their research sponsors pay a publication fee are made OA. This approach generally incurs higher costs compared to gold OA and may offer a lower quality of service.

A controversial practice associated with hybrid OA journals is "double dipping," where both authors and subscribers are charged. Consequently, hybrid OA journals have been described as a "Mephistophelian invention," and publishing in these journals is typically not considered to fulfill OA mandates.


4. Bronze Open Access

In the Bronze Open Access (OA) model, publishers choose to provide free access to certain articles on their website for promotional purposes or to highlight specific themes. However, there is no Article Publication Charge (APC) for authors or funding entities. Despite the articles being freely accessible, the free access is temporary and may be withdrawn by the publisher at any time. These articles lack a clear or identifiable license, resulting in restricted reuse, download, or distribution. Additionally, authors do not retain the copyright to their articles in the Bronze OA model.


5. Diamond/Platinium Open Access

Diamond Open Access is a scholarly publication model characterized by the absence of fees for both authors and readers. These journals and platforms operate as community-driven, academic-led, and academic-owned initiatives, catering to a wide range of small-scale, multilingual, and multicultural scholarly communities. This approach embodies the principle of bibliodiversity.

The inherent equity in Diamond Open Access journals and platforms stems from their inclusive and participatory nature, ensuring accessible and diverse scholarly communication.

In the Diamond Open Access (OA) model, there are no fees for authors or readers. Diamond OA journals are typically sponsored by academic institutions, scholarly societies, or funding organizations. The expenses associated with publishing and peer-reviewing articles are generally covered by these institutions or organizations, rather than passing on costs to authors in the form of article processing charges (APCs). Consequently, both authors and readers can access and disseminate research findings without financial obstacles.

Diamond OA journals prioritize transparency, inclusivity, and accessibility. They often utilize rigorous peer-review processes to ensure the quality and reliability of published works. By removing financial barriers, Diamond OA promotes equitable access to scientific knowledge for both authors and readers.

This publication model is steadily gaining recognition and support within the academic community. Its sustainability depends on ongoing institutional backing and funding support.


Key Differences between Bronze and Platinum/Diamond OA from Green and Gold OA

What distinguishes Bronze and Platinum/Diamond OA from Green and Gold OA is primarily the payment structure. In Bronze and Platinum/Diamond OA, authors are not required to pay article processing charges (APCs), whereas they do in Green and Gold OA. The chart below outlines key features of the four open access models.

Benefits of Publishing in the Bronze and Platinum/Diamond Models

The primary advantage of Platinum/Diamond Open Access is that authors are not required to pay any fees to publish their research. Authors retain copyright over their work, which is also made easily accessible and discoverable. Similarly, in the Bronze Open Access model, there is no cost to authors or readers to access content; however, the scope of available content is more limited, and the free access period is typically finite.