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Open Access

Open access (OA) is the practice of providing unrestricted online access to peer-reviewed scholarly research. This guide is designed to help faculty, staff, and students navigate the topic.

What is Open Access?

Open access (OA) is the free, immediate, online availability of research or resources along with the rights to reuse these resources.

Library Services

We can help you...

  • Find an open access journal to publish in
  • Amplify the reach of your works by sharing them open access, no matter where you choose to publish
  • Negotiate publishing contracts to facilitate sharing your work open access
  • Create and adopt open educational resources to provide free learning resources for students
  • Receive discounts on article processing charges (APCs) for selected publishers

For questions or to schedule a consultation, contact us!

Finding Open Access Research

Recommended Tools

Unpaywall logo

Unpaywall browser extension for Google Chrome and Firefox

While you're browsing research, if the extension finds a free, immediately available version of that article, it will light up green. Click the green tab to be instantly connected to the PDF. It's fast, free, and legal, powered by a database of millions of author-uploaded PDFs.

Open Access Button browser extension for Google Chrome and Firefox

This browser extension will also try to connect you to freely available versions of the articles you're looking for. If it's not available online, you can submit a request directly to the author to make it freely available online.

Finding Open Access Journals

There are countless Open Access journals available now. How can you find them?

Start with the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). The DOAJ aims to index and provide access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.

Worried the journal you found might not be legitimate? Try using the Journal Evaluation Tool from Loyola Marymount University. This rubric and scoring sheet will help in evaluating key aspects of a legitimate journal and may help allay concerns about academic publishing scams.

Finding Open Educational Resources

Recommended Tools

Mason OER Metafinder

This tool searches 21 different sources of open educational materials, including textbooks, syllabi, lesson plans, instructional videos and more.

Try a search!

MOM iconMason OER Metafinder (MOM)
Advanced Search


OER at Swarthmore

Digital Humanities Curricular Grants

Highlight Dive into Systems and work by Crouch/Geller?

Open Access at Swarthmore

Showcasing Research

Screenshot of the Works homepage, showing a map of readership from August 2016

Works is a research information management system that aims to bring together all of the College's faculty output and research under one umbrella, with an aim to preserve and provide access to that research.

Works is hosted by Digital Commons, and thus is a part of the Digital Commons Network of institutional repositories.

Swarthmore highlights open access works by the Swarthmore community through the #FullTextFriday hashtag on Twitter.

Supporting Open Access Publishing

Text in picture: Liberal arts colleges have a role to play in the advancement of knowledge. Logo for "The Lever Initiative". Text follows: this project explores whether libraries collectively could launch a sustainable Open Access press to provide scholars editorial attention worthy of their best work in whatever form this might take-- and offer it to the world.

Swarthmore College is a part of the Oberlin Group, the driving force behind Lever Press:

The Lever Press will not all by itself change the face of scholarly communication, but we are increasingly convinced that it represents an excellent opportunity for us to collectively intervene to help transform this system, and to provide a platform for innovation in the liberal arts.

Luminos logo

Luminos is University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program for books and is designed as a transformative model, built as a partnership where costs and benefits are shared.

Text reads: Knowledge Unlatched: An initiative where libraries work collaboratively to publish humanities and social science books under CC licenses. "Opening access to scholarly books". Link:

The Mission: libraries work together to create a sustainable route to Open Access for scholarly books by sharing the costs to publish humanities and social science monographs on Creative Commons licenses.

Logo for the Open Library of Humanities

The Libraries support the Open Library of Humanities, a non-profit open access publisher supported by libraries. They currently publish 27 journals under open licenses, none of which charge author fees.

Logo for SCOAP3

The Libraries are one of the Lyrasis members who currently support SCOAP³, a program with the mission to convert peer-reviewed literature in particle physics to Open Access at no cost to authors.


Supporting Community Partnerships

A screenshot of the HathiTrust home page

The HathiTrust Digital Library brings together the immense collections of partner institutions in digital form, preserving them securely to be accessed and used today, and in future generations.

About 39% of the collection is in the public domain and freely accessible.

Member libraries are able to download the full text of titles in copyright for users with print disabilities.

Open Education Network Member badge

The Open Education Network is a community working to make higher education more open. OEN supports the Open Textbook Library, a repository and directory of free, openly licensed textbooks, most of which are peer reviewed.