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Open Access and Scholarly Communications: Introduction

Created by Health Science Librarians

What is Open Access?

Open Access is the free, online availability of scholarly content that is free from most copyright and licensing restrictions. To ensure the widest possible access to scholarly content, scholars can contribute to open access literature in several ways:

  • Open Access Publishing: Scholarly content made available online and free of charge to anyone upon publication.

  • Open Archives: Scholarly content in subscription publications made available free of charge after an initial embargo period.

  • Open Repositories: Digital collections of freely available scholarly content on a particular subject or the collected intellectual works of an institution or group of institutions.

  • Open Data: Data that is freely available for use, reuse, and redistribution. 

UNC Open Access Policy

The following resolution was passed by the UNC Chapel Hill Faculty Council in 2005:

"Be it resolved that, to the extent permitted by law, UNC-CH faculty are the owners of their research and should retain ownership, or use other means to foster open access publication wherever possible."

An Open Access Task Force was formed by the UNC Faculty Council in February 2014 to consider an institutional rights-retention-with-opt-out policy for the University as a result of two resolutions from the Administrative Board of the Library and the Copyright Committee. This policy would require authors to deposit final peer-reviewed manuscripts into a university repository, with every author given the option to opt out. The institutional deposit requirement would serve as a pre-existing agreement between the author and institution before authors enter into any agreement with a publisher.

The Task Force was charged with investigating how such a policy would affect the University and making a recommendation to the Chair of the Faculty. The Task Force’s Final Report recommended changing University Policy, and the Task Force co-chairs presented this recommendation and the proposed Resolution 2015-9: On Endorsing a University Open Access Policy at the March 20, 2015 meeting of the Faculty Council.  The resolution was passed by voice acclamation at the April 24, 2015 meeting of the Faculty Council, and is continuing through the next steps required for official adoption.

Resources for Learning More

HowOpenIsIt? Open Access Guide

Cover page for the "How Open Is It?" guide

"The HowOpenIsIt?®” Open Access Spectrum (OAS) guide standardizes Open Access terminology in an easily understandable, comprehensive resource created by PLOS, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).

“HowOpenIsIt?® OAS moves the conversation from “Is It Open Access?” to “HowOpenIsIt?® ” and illustrates a nuanced continuum of more versus less open to enable users to compare and contrast publications and policies across a grid of clearly defined components related to readership, reuse, copyright, author and automatic posting, and machine readability."

Open Access Explained! by PHD Comics

UNC Scholarly Communications Office

The Scholarly Communications Officer provides guidance, policy development, and advocacy to faculty, students, and staff on the following issues:

  • Copyright and fair use

  • Authors’ rights

  • Privacy rights

  • Open access

  • Policy related to scholarly material

For more information, visit the Scholarly Communications Office webpage, or contact Scholarly Communications Officer Anne Gilliland, MSLS, JD