A quick guide to open access publishing definitions - Author Services

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A quick guide to open access publishing definitions

There are various open access publishing definitions: green and gold, hybrid open access, or APC (Article Publishing Charge), to name just a few. We’ve created a simple A-Z guide to common open access publishing definitions and terms to help you get to grips with them.

Find out more about publishing your work open access.

Article publishing charge (APC)

The article publishing charge (also called “article processing charge”) is a publication fee often associated with making your article gold open access, usually paid by the author’s institution or funder. There are many funding options available to help you cover these charges.

Article versions

There will be different versions of your article from the various stages of writing and publishing your work. Understanding these different versions is important for knowing how you can share your work via green and gold OA:

  • Author’s Original Manuscript (AOM)/Preprint: your paper before you submit it to a journal for peer review.
  • Accepted Manuscript (AM): your paper after peer review, when it has been revised and accepted for publication by the journal editor.
  • Version of Record (VoR): the final, definitive, citable version of your paper, which has been copyedited, typeset, had metadata applied, and has been allocated a DOI (Digital Object Identifier).

Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons licenses dictate what others can do with your article once it’s published. Most open access articles have a Creative Commons license. Your research funder may have requirements on which license you should publish under.

The most common licenses we offer are:

  • Attribution (CC BY): others can distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.
  • Attribution-Non-commercial (CC BY-NC): others can remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
  • Attribution-Non-commercial-No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND): others can download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Embargo period

An embargo period is the amount of time that the author must wait before making an earlier version of their article (i.e. Accepted Manuscript) an open deposit in a repository via green open access. For example, embargo periods usually apply when posting your Accepted Manuscript to an institutional or subject repository, or to a scholarly collaboration network such as ResearchGate, Mendeley, or Academia.edu.

Institutional repository

An institution’s digital platform used to host and preserve scholarly outputs, such as articles, books, or reports. If you’re based at a research institution, you’re probably required to place a version of your article in their repository.

Open access article

An open access article is an article which is:

  • freely and permanently available online, so anyone, anywhere can read it
  • usually has license maximizing reuse by others

What’s the difference between an article being ‘free access’ and ‘open access’?

On journal websites you may come across some articles labelled ‘free access’. They’re identified on Taylor & Francis Online by this icon:

Free access icon

These are articles in subscription journals which are available for non-subscribers to read. Sometimes these are pages in the journal that aren’t full research articles, including editorials, letters, or obituaries. Or the free online access may be for promotional reasons, such as making articles which are part of a press campaign more widely available. The main differences are:

  • Reuse: unlike the final versions of subscription articles, open access articles will always have a license which allows reuse of the work by third parties.
  • Time limit: free access articles might only be accessible to non-subscribers for a set period. Open access papers are guaranteed to be available for anyone to read, anywhere, forever.

Open access journals

Some open access journals publish open access articles only, whereas others publish a mixture of open access and subscription content. Common definitions of OA journals which you may come across are:

  • Full open access: these journals only publish open access articles. This means that the final version of all articles in these journals are available for anyone to read, anywhere, forever.
  • Hybrid open access: these journals publish both open access articles, which are always accessible to everybody, and articles which are usually only available to subscribers. Taylor & Francis hybrid journals are called ‘Open Select’.


A preprint, also known as the Author’s Original Manuscript (AOM), is your article before you have submitted it to a journal for peer review. Many researchers share their preprints via green open access, for example on social media, scholarly collaboration networks, or a preprint server intended for non-commercial use (for example arXiv, bioRxiv, SocArXiv, etc.)

Subject repository

A digital platform in a particular subject area used to host and preserve scholarly outputs, such as articles, books, or reports. For example, PubMed Central is a subject repository for Biomedical and Life Sciences research.

Subscription vs open access publishing

A common misconception is that open access journals are of a lesser quality than subscription (sometimes referred to as ‘traditional’) journals. However just like with subscription journals, all articles go through rigorous peer review, providing they are published in a good quality open access journal.

Here are three differences between subscription and open access publishing:

1) Access

Publishing open access means that your research is available for anyone, anywhere to read. With subscription publishing, your work is usually only available to researchers at institutions which subscribe to the journal.

2) Cost

When publishing open access, you’ll often have to pay an article publishing charge (APC). When publishing in traditional subscription journals, there’s no APC and your article will be available to all subscribers of the journal.

3) Reuse

With open access, you as the author retain copyright with a Creative Commons license which dictates what others can do with your article. With traditional publishing you will assign copyright to the publisher or society or grant them an exclusive license to publish.

Types of open access publishing

Gold open access

Gold open access means that the final published version of your article (or Version of Record) is permanently and freely available online for anyone, anywhere to read. An article publishing charge (APC) is often applicable when you publish gold open access. Publishing Gold OA also means the author(s) retains copyright to the work.

Green open access

Green open access, also known as self-archiving, is when you post an earlier version of your article, such as the “Accepted Manuscript” in repositories and online, usually following an embargo period. This enables you to share your article and comply with most funder mandates, without having to pay an APC. Under Green OA, you will usually assign copyright to the publisher in the traditional manner.

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