As a student or member of staff at the University you have access to a vast range of published material online. Your access to most of that material is reliant on Library Services paying subscription fees, which permits access to a limited number of authorised users.
Open Access is different. It is a means of publishing outputs with no cost or barrier to anyone who wishes to read them. You will come across two main types of Open Access journal article:
Version of Record
Some journals publish either all of their content (Fully Open Access) or some of their content (Hybrid Open Access) openly. This means you’ll go to the journal website and be able to find, access and download the article without ever having to login. They may achieve this by charging authors a fee to publish in the journal (Gold Open Access), or by funding their publication via some other route so it is free to read and publish (Diamond Open Access).
Author Accepted Manuscript
When an article is submitted to a journal it is usually peer reviewed before the journal accepts it for publication. If the article is accepted following peer review, a manuscript is created that includes all of the corrections suggested by peer reviewers. It is essentially the final text of the article, minus the publisher's final type-setting. This document is the Author Accepted Manuscript. Many authors archive this version of their submission in Open Access repositories, so that anyone can read their work without needing to pay a subscription to the journal. This is also known as Green Open Access.
You will find both types of Open Access article in FindIt@Bham. Just as you should ensure that any article you read is from a reliable source (and for research articles, has been peer reviewed), you should check the same for Open Access articles. However, there is no reason to assume Open Access articles are any less trustworthy than those published via a traditional means.
You may also come across articles published as a pre-print. This is typically the manuscript an author submits to a journal before it is peer-reviewed. Pre-prints provide a mechanism for the rapid dissemination of research findings and/or to elicit comments to help improve the paper when it is finally published. You are not likely to be directed to a pre-print via FindIt@Bham, however, if you decide to read a pre-print you should bear in mind that it has not yet received the scrutiny of other experts in the field and may be subject to substantial revision once it is finally published.
Finding Open Access material in FindIt@Bham
In some cases the link to an article in FindIt@Bham will simply point to an open access version of record – you’ll see an orange padlock symbol next them.
You may sometimes find articles in FindIt@Bham (typically when expanding your search beyond library resources) which the University does not pay to access. In those cases, you may see a link referencing ‘Unpaywall’. The article you download may be a Version of Record or an Author Accepted Manuscript.
We also have a dedicated Open Access section in FindIt@Bham's Database Search. This lists some of the top scholarly Open Access platforms available.
Find out more
We have dedicated pages for authors, and information about locating Open Access material.