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Open Access: Overview

A guide to open access for Macalester faculty, staff, students.

What defines an open access publication?

Briefly, Open Access means that online access to the information is unrestricted and free of charge. More thoroughly, an Open Access publication or service is one that meets the following two conditions:

  1. The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship[2], as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.
  2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is such a repository).

Adapted from the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, June 20, 2003

Advocating for broad access to information and remaining agile in the face of rising operating costs are essential issues for academic libraries for reasons of economic and social justice.  While we recognize that faculty and students often need to publish in specific commercial publications due to promotion and tenure factors, we strongly encourage faculty to retain their rights as authors. Publishing in a commercial journal often requires signing away certain author rights, but we can work with faculty and students to negotiate their rights before signing restrictive copyright agreements if it is not possible to publish in open access journals.  You may read more in our section on Author Rights.

Article Processing Charges (APC) for open access journals

The library has a fund to cover the costs for article processing charges (APCs) for publishing an article so that it is openly accessible.  Our priority for funding is for articles that are co-authored by faculty and students.  Some commercial publications offer hybrid solutions and depending on the publisher we have different options.  Currently the library has deposit accounts with these two publishers:

And we are a supporting member for

  •  MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute) a publisher of more than 180 peer-reviewed open access journals.  By being a supporting member, we have a discount for the APC for journals. 

Sources for Identifying Peer Reviewed Open Access Journals

With over 9,000 journals in the DOAJ, you can look for topics or browse by subject.

Pre-Print Servers

Pre-print servers exist for the purpose of sharing manuscripts that have been peer-reviewed, but are waiting to be published.  As the lag time from when an article is accepted for publication to the actual date published can be quite lengthy, many turn to pre-print servers to find relevant and timely scholarly articles.  The following are pre-print servers with those in red hosted on OSF at


Library Director

Terri Fishel's picture
Terri Fishel
DeWitt Wallace Library, Macalester College
1600 Grand Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55105
651 696-6343