Open access publishing: the new norm?

What is this about?

Open access publishing allows research outputs, such as academic journal articles, to be distributed online without barriers. This is in contrast to traditional non-open access publishing, where access has to be acquired through subscriptions, site licenses or pay-per-view charges. Although developments in the open access movement suggest its popularity is rising, there is little information about the impact on publishing.

Why is this important?

Whether access to scientific literature should be open or behind paywalls is a prominent topic of debate in the research community. In a 2018 analysis on open access publishing, it was estimated that 28% of all current journal articles are freely available online (1). This proportion has been growing over the last 20 years. In 2015, the most recent year that was examined, 45% of all articles were reported to be open access (1). The adoption of open access practices however differs between publishers and research fields.

For whom is this important?

Researchers, Funders

What are the best practices?

There are different ways to make research open access. The two main routes that authors can take towards publishing open access are self-archiving, the so-called green route, and open access publishing, the gold route (2). When taking the green route, the article is published behind a paywall, but a free copy is published in an online repository. In the gold route, articles are published immediately in open access mode.


1. Piwowar H, Priem J, Larivière V, Alperin JP, Matthias L, Norlander B, et al. The state of OA: a large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ 2018;6:e4375.

2. Springer. What is Open Access? Available at: Accessed 29 May, 2019.

Lars Lambriks contributed to this theme.

Latest contribution was May 29, 2019