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Open Access at Washington University

Information about open access publishing options and issues





Open access is a movement that encourages making scholarly resources more freely available. We engage and invest in research in order to accelerate the pace of discovery, encourage innovation, enrich education, and stimulate the economy to improve the public good. Communication of the results of research is an essential component to the research process; research can only advance by sharing the results, and the value of an investment in research is only maximized through wide use of its results.

Yet, because of cost barriers or use restrictions (paywalls), research results are not available to the full community of potential users. This has resulted in a call for a new framework to allow research results to be more easily accessed and used — the call for Open Access. (from SPARC: Open Access Fact Sheet)



Further Reading

Open Access at WU

Adopted by the Faculty Senate Council: December 21, 2010. Adopted at the Faculty Senate meeting: May 9, 2011

The Faculty of Washington University in St. Louis is committed to making its scholarship and creative works freely and easily available to the world community. Faculty members are encouraged to seek venues for their works that share this ideal. In particular, when consistent with their professional development, members of the Faculty should endeavor to:

1. Amend copyright agreements to retain the right to use his or her own work and to deposit such work in a University digital repository or another depository, which is freely accessible to the general public;

2. Submit a final manuscript of accepted, peer-reviewed publications to one of the University’s digital repositories whenever consistent with the copyright agreement;

3. and Seek publishers for his or her works committed to free and unfettered access (often referred to as open access publishers) whenever consistent with his or her professional goals.

This resolution applies only to scholarly articles authored or co-authored by a member of the Faculty since the adoption of this policy.

Currently, there is no systematic University-wide coordinated program to assist Faculty with managing the rights to their scholarly articles, nor is there any mechanism for facilitating the accessibility and dissemination of these works from within the University. The Faculty encourages the Offices of the Provost and the University’s Libraries to establish digital repositories and to provide author support services to aid the Faculty in providing greater access to their work. At this time and as a practical matter, this resolution covers only scholarly articles and does not extend to other forms of scholarly and creative work such as books, art, music, blogs, presentations, or curriculum materials. The Offices of the Provost and the University’s Libraries should encourage any faculty member who would be willing to join in this resolution, regardless of type of scholarly and creative work generated.


Colors of Open Access, from Case Western University, adapted from University of Padua Libraries

Cost, license, and embargo statuses of green, diamond, gold, and diamond open access types

Other Terms

Hybrid journal : includes some gold open access articles; publisher gets subscription fees + article publication charges e.g, "double dipping;"  another problem with OA articles in hybrid journals is that they are sometime hidden or hard to identify as open


  • preprint (before peer review changes)
  • final author accepted manuscript (after peer review changes), final accepted version, postprint
  • final published version; version of record

Timeline of Major OA Events

1991    An online repository of electronic preprints, known as e-prints, of scientific papers is founded in Los Alamos by the American physicist Paul Ginsparg. It was renamed to in 1999. The total number of submissions by April 21, 2021 is 1,866,209 (

1993    Creation of the Open Society Institute (renamed the Open Society Foundation [OSF] since 2001) by the progressive liberal business magnate George Soros. The OSF financially supports civil society groups around the world, with a stated aim of advancing justice, education, public health and independent media.

1997    Launch of SciELO in Brazil. There are currently 14 countries in the SciELO network and its journal collections: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

1998    Public Knowledge Project (PKP) is founded by John Willinsky in the Faculty of Education at UBC dedicated to improving the scholarly and public quality of research. PKP has created the Open Conference Systems (2000), Open Journal Systems (2001), Open Harvester Systems (2002) and the Open Monograph Press (2013).

2000    BioMed Central, the self-described first and largest OA science publisher and PubMed Central, a free digital repository for biomedical and life sciences journal, is founded.

2001    An online petition calling for all scientists to pledge that from September 2001 they would discontinue submission of papers to journals which did not make the full-text of their papers available to all, free and unfettered, either immediately or after a delay of several months is released. The petition collected 34,000 signatures but publishers took no strong response to the demands. Shortly thereafter, the Public Library of Science (PLOS) was founded as an alternative to traditional publishing. PLOS ONE is currently the world’s largest journal by number of papers published (about 30,000 a year in 2015).

2002    February 14th: Release of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI), a public statement of principles relating to OA to the research literature.

2008    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, an OA mandate requiring that research papers resulting from NIH funding must be freely and publicly available through PubMed Central within 12 months of publication, is officially recorded.

2009    The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (Bill H.R 801 IH, also known as the "Conyers Bill") is submitted as a direct response to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy; intending to reverse it. The bill’s alternate name relates it to U.S Representative John Conyers (D-MI), who introduced it at the 111th United States Congress on February 3, 2009.

2012    Start of the Cost of Knowledge campaign which specifically targeted Elsevier. It was initiated by a group of prominent mathematicians who each made a commitment to not participate in publishing in Elsevier’s journals, and currently has over 15,933 co-signatories.

      Launch of PeerJ, an OA journal that charges publication fees through researcher memberships, not on a per-article basis, resulting in what has been called "a flat fee for ’all you can publish’".

2013     OSTP directive Policy memorandum (February 2013), from the Executive Office of the President/Office of Science and Technology Support (OSTP) Director John Holdren, directing US federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research.

2014    First OpenCon in Washington DC, an annual conference for students and early career researchers on Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational resources.

2017    Unpaywall Button launched

2018    cOAlition-S published Plan S, a set of principles with the goal of making all research freely and openly available was formed. Initially comprised of 12 European funding agencies cOAlition-S has expanded to more than 20 international funders.

2022 The OSTP issued an updated policy (the Holdren Nelson memo) that will make taxpayer-funded research immediately available – with no embargo period – for the public to access and use, strengthening the 2013 policy. It requires large federal agencies to develop public access plans for the articles and data that result from their support. The guidance eliminates the optional 12-month embargo period for sharing papers in repositories and requires that data underlying research in peer-reviewed articles also be made immediately open.


Largely taken from Cold Spring Harbor Library