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Open access

Making your publications more visible to the world

Open access means making scholarly outputs, including theses, research data and publications, freely available online. The University of Sydney supports open access to the scholarly output produced by our researchers. The University recognises that the widest communication of research outputs will maximise the impact of work. See the Open Access to University Research Policy 2015 for further information.

Making your work open access enables people who would not otherwise have been able to access your work to engage with and build upon your research outputs. This visibility increases the reach and impact of your work, helping to build your professional standing. Open access also benefits the wider community. Many institutions can’t afford subscriptions to all of the various journals that academic research is published in. Open access allows researchers at these institutions to engage with the material necessary for them to conduct their own research.

Open access may not always be the best option for all of your work. Sometimes career path, financial or commercial considerations mean that research can’t be made openly accessible. Talk to colleagues, your supervisor or your Academic Liaison Librarian to help you decide if open access is the right option for you now.

If you have publications that you’d like to make open access, submit them to the University’s Sydney eScholarship repository. You can also look at our Research Impact guide to learn more about how open access can help you to increase the reach of your work.

Funder open access requirements
  • Most research funders, including the NHMRC and ARC, require that publications arising from a supported research project must be made openly accessible within twelve months of the publication date.

    See the publications and open access section for information on how to make your publications open access to fulfil your funder requirements.

    Some research funders, including the Wellcome Trust and the National Science Foundation, mandate that research data be made openly available. Currently the NHMRC and ARC strongly encourage you to make research data openly accessible as soon as possible after publishing research based on the data.

    See the research data and open access section for information on how to make your data open access.

    Review your funder’s open access policy to ensure that you know what all of your open access responsibilities are.

    Contact your Academic Liaison Librarian or the Library’s repository consultants for help in understanding and fulfilling your open access obligations and making your research openly accessible.

Publications and open access
  • Publications can be made openly available in one of two ways:

    • Green open access: you publish your work in a journal that only provides access to those who subscribe to the journal or pay to access content. In order to make the work openly accessible, you must deposit a version of your work in the University’s institutional repository, or a subject-based repository. Examples of subject-based repositories include arXiv, Social Science Research Network (SSRN) and Research Papers in Economics (RePEc), among others.
    • Gold open access: you publish your work in an open access journal as an open access article in a hybrid journal. The work is openly available from the moment it is published, therefore no further action from you is needed to make it open. Gold open access often requires payment of an article processing charge (APC). Your funder may make a provision for this charge as part of your grant. The Public Library of Science (PLOS) is an example of a gold open access journal. The Directory of Open Access Journals is a list of high-quality peer reviewed gold open access journals.

    Be aware of predatory publishers if you choose gold open access. These businesses charge APCs to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals. Contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for help with selecting the right open access journal for you.

    For help with using the University’s institutional repository to make your publications available through green open access, contact the Library’s repository consultants.

Article processing charges (APCs)
  • An article processing charge (APC) is a fee paid by an author to a journal publisher to make an article immediately vailable via open access. These charges cover open access publishing and licensing costs, and allow readers to access the article immediately without encountering a paywall.

    There are several ways of making your article open access which involve the payment of APCs. They include publishing in an open access journal (“gold open access”) or enabling open access to a single article within a subscription only journal (“hybrid open access”). Further information on open access publishing is available on the “Publications and open access” section on the Library website.

    • The Library does not cover the payment of APCs, page charges or manuscript submission fees.
    • Contact the research support staff within your School or Faculty to see if there is any potential funding for APCs.
    • Some grant schemes allow funds to be used for payment of APCs. Check the terms of your funding rules and research agreement, or contact the Research Support team in the Research Portfolio for assistance.
    • Discuss with the publisher whether you qualify for a discounted APC charge Contact your librarian if you have further questions about APCs or publishing options.
    • Contact your librarian if you have further questions about APCs or publishing options.

    Do I need to pay an APC to make my work open access?

    If you are publishing in a subscription journal, a free “green open access” option may be available. This involves depositing a copy of the accepted manuscript into the Sydney eScholarship Repository after waiting out an embargo period. This will satisfy the open access requirements of an ARC or NHMRC grant, and means a free version is available to readers. For more information, contact your librarian.

    Identifying high quality open access journals

    A community-curated directory of high quality open access journals is available at the Directory of Open Access Journals. Before you submit, it is a good idea to contact your librarian and check your target journal using the online tool ThinkCheckSubmit.

Books and open access
  • Books are often overlooked in discussions about open access publishing. Publishing a book open access provides the same benefits for both the author and society as open access journal publishing, including potentially increased research visibility and impact of your work, and complying with funder mandates.

    The most popular open access books in the University of Sydney’s institutional repository have been downloaded tens of thousands of times. If you are interested in seeing the range of peer-reviewed books available in open access, check the Directory of Open Access Books. Many not-for-profit and commercial scholarly publishers provide the option of publishing your monograph open access, with differing levels of subventions and licencing options.

    If you would like to learn more about publishing your academic book open access and discuss if this option is right for you, you can get advice from Sydney University Press.

Research data and open access

Theses and open access
  • Promoting your research builds your professional standing. Open access removes barriers to your work and is a vital part of a research dissemination and promotion strategy.

    Many of the University’s most popular open access theses have been downloaded tens of thousands of times. The papers in our open access thesis collection are downloaded around eight times more than publications in collections restricted to only University staff and students.

    If you want to make your thesis available open access or would like to make sure that the option is available, you should start considering the copyright issues involved as early as possible. The University’s Copyright Services team have created resources that outline issues that may be encountered when making a thesis open access. If you require advice on copyright issues with your thesis, please contact

    Theses that include published articles

    When your thesis includes published articles, it can be hard to know if you’re allowed to make your thesis openly available in the University’s institutional repository or not. To check if you can make your thesis open access, use RightsLink to check the permissions of each article.


    1. Search Google using the article title and click to open the search result from the publisher’s website.
    2. Find and click the link that says ‘Get rights and content’ or ‘Request Permissions’ – this might be on the first or last page of the article. Once you click the link, RightsLink will launch.
    3. Use the dropdown menu to select ‘reuse in a thesis/dissertation’, enter all necessary information into the form and click on ‘Quick Price’.
    4. When you click ‘Quick Price’ RightsLink will provide information about whether you can or can’t reuse your article by publishing in the university’s repository (a non-commercial way of publishing your thesis). On this page, you should sign in and retrieve the permission documentation to keep on file for future reference (if using RightsLink for the first time, you will need to create an account).
    5. Repeat these steps for each of the articles contained in your thesis.
    6. Once you have permission to reuse your articles, you can make your thesis openly available in the repository – just select ‘Open Access’ on your theses lodgement form when submitting to HDRAC.

    Please note: Many journal publishers, such as Elsevier, Springer and Wiley, allow their articles to be included in electronic theses free of charge. Others may charge a low fee, for instance, journals from The Royal Society charge about $3.50 to include an article in an electronic thesis.

    If your request is rejected by RightsLink or if any complications arise, please contact