Skip to main content

COVID-19 update: Fisher, Law, The Quarter*, Camden Library spaces are open to current students & staff only with no in-person services. Check current hours.
Library staff are available on Live Chat Mon–Thu: 8am–10pm, Fri: 8am-8pm Sat-Sun: 10am–2pm. Learn more.

Open access

Making your research more available

Open access means making your research available online, free of cost or other barriers to access. Open access provides an opportunity to achieve the widest communication of your research, maximising the reach and impact of your work. The University of Sydney supports open access to research through the Open Access to University Research Policy 2015.

Open access policies, information and support can contain a lot of jargon, so please use this guide to key open access terms and definitions.

On this page

Benefits of open access

All types of research outputs can be made open access, including journal articles, reports, theses, books, research data and "non-traditional" research outputs, including creative works. The benefits of publishing your research open access include:

  • Increased citation and usage of journal articles when compared to articles available only by subscription, i.e. behind a "paywall" (Piwowar H et al., 2018 and Ottaviani J, 2016)
  • Greater public engagement, as your research can be accessed by anyone
  • Compliance with the open access requirements of major research funders, including the NHMRC and ARC

ARC and NHMRC funded research

The ARC and NHMRC both have mandatory open access requirements as part of their funding policies.

Research outputs covered by the policies

The ARC's Open Access Policy applies to all research outputs arising from ARC funding. Pre-prints are not included.

The NHMRC's Open Access Policy covers peer reviewed journal articles and conference papers arising from NHMRC funding.

Both the ARC and NHMRC strongly encourage making any research data arising from their grants available open access. Find more information about publishing research data on the library website.

Overview of requirements

  • Full-text peer reviewed outputs must be made openly available within a 12-month period from the publication date, either via publication in an open access journal or deposit of the author's accepted manuscript (post-print) in an institutional repository. The author's draft manuscript (pre-print) is not an acceptable version.
  • A metadata record for the output must be made available in an institutional repository, for example the Sydney eScholarship repository, no later than 3 months from the date of publication.
  • Metadata records must include the grant ID, list the funding source and contain a DOI or URL link to the original research record.

More information

Types of open access publishing and archiving for journal articles

Gold open access – publishing your article in an open access journal. Your article will be immediately openly available on the publisher's website upon publication. Publishing in an open access journal will usually incur an Article Processing Charge (APC).

Green open access – making a copy of your accepted manuscript (post-print) available in an open access repository (self-archiving). There is no charge to archive/deposit a work in an open access repository. The publisher's version of the article will only be accessible to subscribers.

Hybrid open access – making individual articles open access immediately upon publication after payment of an APC, while other articles in the journal remain available only to subscribers. Journals offering hybrid open access may also offer an option for self-archiving (green open access).

Publishing in an open access journal (gold open access)

Gold open access means publishing an article in an open access journal, where all articles in that journal are made open access immediately upon publication. You may be charged an APC to publish in an open access journal.

Public Library of Science (PLOS) is an example of an open access journal. You can also find a list of peer reviewed open access journals via the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

To publish in an open access journal:

  1. Check the Strategic Publishing guide to find the right journal/s for your target audience
  2. Check the DOAJ for a list of open access journals. Through DOAJ you can also check what their policies are and if they charge an APC
  3. Submit your manuscript to the journal
  4. Pay journal publishing fees (i.e. an APC), if applicable, on acceptance
  5. Journal publishes the article immediately online, freely available to the public

When choosing a journal to publish in, be aware of predatory publishers. These businesses charge publishing fees to authors without providing the peer review, editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals. Contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for help with selecting the right open access journal for you.

Archiving in a repository (green open access)

Green open access involves making a version (usually the post-print or author accepted manuscript) of your article freely available in an open access institutional repository. The University of Sydney's open access institutional repository is Sydney eScholarship, which collects and provides global access to research from our university and can be used for green open access.

Most journal publishers will allow you to deposit an author accepted manuscript in a repository, usually with an embargo period. An advantage of green open access is that there are no fees to make a version of your article open access.

When choosing a journal to publish in:

  • Check the Strategic Publishing guide to find the right journal/s for your target audience.
  • Find out what green open access options are available when publishing in that journal, including the length of any embargo. To do this, review the self-archiving policy for the journal or search SherpaRomeo, a tool for checking or locating publisher open access policies.
  • Check if the publisher requires you to make your research data available. You can check for this on your publisher's webpage and use our information for publishing your data as needed.

Once your article has been published:

Paying for your individual article to be open access (hybrid open access)

Hybrid open access is when a non-open access journal (i.e. a subscription journal) enables open access to an individual article upon publication, provided a fee has been paid by the author. This fee, also called an Article Processing Charge (APC), can be very expensive.

Publishing in hybrid journals isn't encouraged, as it means that the researcher pays a fee to make the journal article open access, while the institution simultaneously pays a subscription fee to access the journal.

Before publishing via hybrid open access, find out what green open access options are available for the journal, including the length of any embargo. To do this, review the self-archiving policy for the journal or search SherpaRomeo, a tool for checking publisher open access policies. If the journal allows you to make a peer-reviewed version (usually the post-print or author accepted manuscript) of your article freely available in an open access institutional repository without an embargo, consider if you need to pay the APC.

Open access options for books

Many not-for-profit and commercial scholarly publishers provide the option of publishing your book open access. This typically requires a Book Processing Charge, which can be quite expensive. Some book publishers also allow you to archive a copy of your book or book chapter in an institutional repository, such as the Sydney eScholarship repository, to comply with funder requirements. The best way to find out more information about this is to contact your publisher.

Sydney University Press supports the principles of open access publishing and books accepted for publication can be open access on release, or after an embargo. For more information visit Sydney University Press Open Access webpage, or contact

Making your thesis open access

Making your thesis open access means making it available for the public to download, rather than restricting access to the University of Sydney staff and students only. This increases the exposure of your work to a wider audience, raising your profile as a researcher. You have the option to make your thesis open access when you lodge your thesis with the Higher Degree by Research Administration Centre, who will submit your thesis to the Sydney eScholarship repository on your behalf.

A Digital Object Identifier (DOI), a persistent identifier useful for tracking usage of your thesis, can be assigned upon request to an open access thesis to make it easier to be discovered and cited. Find information on how to request a DOI for your open access thesis on our website.

Theses that contain third-party copyright

If you want to make your thesis open access, you'll need to make sure you have permission to include any third-party copyright materials.

Theses that include publications

If your thesis includes publications, you’ll need to make sure you have permission to make each of the articles open access. Many journal publishers allow their articles to be included in digital theses free of charge whereas others may charge a small fee. The easiest way to check if you can make the individual articles open access through your thesis is by using RightsLink.

Instructions on using RightsLink

  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 article landing page, or 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' as an author, 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 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 open access in the repository – just select 'Open Access' on your thesis lodgement form when submitting to HDRAC.

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

Getting help

Topic Contact
For advice on identifying open access publishing options or open access information specific to your broader field of research Contact your Academic Liaison Librarian
Submitting to the Sydney eScholarship repository and open access funder requirements
Publishing your academic book open access
Copyright, publisher open access policies and RightsLink
General questions about your thesis Contact your HDRAC discipline contact