Open Access (OA) describes access to scholarly literature on the internet:

free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited. Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI)

                Video: Open Access Explained by Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics)

OA Publishing

Open access to scholarly research can be achieved by a range of activities around publishing and dissemination of scholarly research outputs. This includes dissemination of preprints and grey literature through repositories and platforms, known as “Green” open access; and publication of articles in peer reviewed journals, known as “gold” OA. It also includes the sharing of data associated with research outputs.

For research outputs and data to be truly reusable, they need to be appropriately licensed. This is where Creative Commons comes in – an open licence is the difference between research outputs being available for free on the internet and being free to re-use.

Open Access and the internet
Initiatives to share scholarly outputs are detailed in Peter Suber’s timeline of OA  including notable milestone platforms such as Project Gutenberg Joint Academic Network.

Open Access books

OA is commonly associated with research outputs expressed in journal articles, but many researchers are increasingly publishing open access books and textbooks. The movement to extend OA to longer-form works is being led by university presses and collaborative funding initiatives such as Knowledge Unlatched.

For more information see Developments in OA monograph publishing by the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG).

CC licences
CC licences provide the legal mechanism to provide permission for a range of reuses from sharing to making derivative works, while at the same time protecting the moral rights of authors to be attributed. CC also offers copyright owners a public domain dedication tool – CC0 – which provides a legal mechanism for an author to waive the right to attribution and other copyright interests, effectively dedicating a work to the public domain.
Six licences for sharing your work
Creative Commons Licences: What do they mean to Authors & Users?

Open Educational Resources

“Open Education Resources (OERs) are educational materials which are licensed in ways that provide permissions for individuals and institutions to re-use, adapt and modify the materials for their own use. OERs can, and do include full courses, textbooks, streaming videos, exams, software, and any other materials or techniques supporting learning”  OER Foundation

OERs include but are not limited to textbooks. As with other OA publishing, OERs are communicated on the internet and enabled for re-use using CC licences. Learn more about Creative Commons and OERs here,  and OER in Australian schools here.

Which CC licence?                                                                                                                                 
Two licences meet the requirement for open access as defined by the BOAI.
SPARC and PLOS have created a useful spectrum- HowOpenIsIt?–  for evaluating open-ness based on reuse rights.                                                                                                          The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) identifies peer reviewed journals that meet the criteria for open based on the journal licence.                                                                                                                                                               





is a statement of principles for open access to Australia’s research. Research outputs should be

  • Findable
  • accessible
  • inter-operable
  • re-usable

Talking about CC licences and open access to research

These info-graphics are free to share and re-use:

4 ways to mark your work to show you share!

Is your research output Re-usable?

Licensed to share



Creative Commons Australia is affiliated with the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG), which advocates for open access to scholarly outputs. There are many useful resources on the AOASG website including What is Open Access? OA in Australasia