Open Access 101, SU Libraries and You

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Oct. 3, 2022, noon
An open access primer and an overview of campus author, publishing and research services.
open access key symbol on blue sepia background

by Dylan Mohr, Open Scholarship Librarian, and Rachel Fox Von Swearingen, Collections Lead Librarian

You’re at a research university. Do you read scholarly literature or other published information? Do you publish books or articles? Are you an educator? Chances are that every single person on campus has interacted with open access publishing even if you aren’t aware of it.

With new government mandates and the desire to share research globally without paywalls, Syracuse University Libraries is here to give you an open access primer and an overview of campus author, publishing and research services. Once you’re up to speed, join us in celebrating International Open Access Week, coming together and learning how to make open access the new norm in scholarly publishing.

What is Open Access?

Open access (OA) refers to freely available digital information that is published online. It is a publishing model that exists alongside sales-based publishing models, and it can refer to books, articles or other content that you encounter in scholarly research and teaching.

There are different “levels” of open access material, based on where it is produced in the publishing process and the rights that the publisher gives to the author.

For more information on what open access publishing is, visit the SU Libraries’ Open Access Research Guide.

How do I find OA content in the SU Libraries?

The Libraries present open access articles and books in our search tools alongside other published content that we paid for with our collection development funds. When you search in Summon, the Libraries’ main discovery tool, you will see a search limiter for open access materials as well as links to the open access versions of articles via a metadata linking service called Unpaywall. We also list open access journals in our A-Z Journal List and include scholarly open access book collections when we can get the catalog records for them. Many of our scholarly databases search open access content as well!

For more information on navigating open access collections in your discipline, contact your subject librarian. To suggest other open access books and journals that we can include in our library search tools, contact our collection development librarians at

How do I find OA content on the internet?

You can find fully open access scholarly journals through the Directory of Open Access Journals, or DOAJ. There are also open access course textbooks at the OER Commons. Or, you can search in a wide variety of open access resources and repositories listed on our Open Access Research Guide.

Searching Google Scholar yields a wide variety of scholarly content that is freely available. Some of the articles and books you find are published legally as open access, some are public domain where the copyright expired, and some content is shared without the consent of the rights owners. Vetting the authorship and publisher of research is an important part of consuming information and using it in teaching or your own research. For help, contact your subject librarian.

I’m an author. How do I publish my work as open access?

The Libraries can support authors in navigating your rights as well as locating places to publish open access.

If you have questions regarding author rights and licensing, please contact the Libraries’ Open Scholarship Librarian, Dylan Mohr, at

How do the Libraries contribute monetarily to open access publishing?

Libraries have traditionally been a major source of funding in scholarly publishing by purchasing books and journals. Open access publishers are developing alternative funding models beyond author APCs and BPCs, bringing libraries back into the funding ecosystem. Some of these models are based on “transforming” library subscription dollars for a given publisher into credits for our institutional authors to publish their content open access. Other models provide funder libraries with access to backlist (historical) paywalled content in exchange for a lump sum contribution to frontlist (new) open access titles.

Here at SU Libraries, collection development librarians evaluate OA funding agreements alongside our other licensed paywalled publisher content since all scholarly publishing is needed by our users. Visit the Libraries’ guide on Transformative Agreements and Publishing Open Access so see some of the agreements we’ve made. If you have questions, or want to suggest a specific funding initiative to us, email our collection development librarians at

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