Skip to Main Content

Open Access

This research guide provides readers with a basic understanding of Open Access, which is broadly defined as content that is free to access and re-use.

Copyright Questions?

The University of Michigan Library Copyright Office provides help with copyright questions for University of Michigan faculty, staff and students. Please email us with questions or visit our website for more information.

Legal Advice

The information presented here is intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions pertaining to the University of Michigan, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.

If you require legal advice in your personal capacity, the lawyer referral services operated by the Washtenaw County Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan may be helpful to you.

Key Vocabulary and Foundations of Open Access


Institutional Repository

A digital collection hosted by a university or other institution that provides a place to archive and provide access to the scholarly work created at the institution. Most allow members of the institution's community to submit preprints, post-prints, or final versions of published work and often include other forms of scholarship, such as presentations, working papers, reports, etc.

Subject Repository or Discipline Repository

A digital collection that archives and makes available works of scholarship in one or more disciplines regardless of the affiliation of the scholar. Participation may be open only by invitation or recommendation. Users archive their own work.

Versions of Works


The version of the manuscript submitted for publication (before peer-review and before being accepted for publication). Some also use this term for the final peer-reviewed manuscript accepted for publication. In either case, this is usually a document in a format like Microsoft Word or LaTeX.


Usage varies—can be either the final peer-reviewed version of the manuscript accepted for publication or the final, published version, often with the publisher's design and page numbers.

Creative Commons (CC)

A nonprofit organization that offers freely available copyright licenses that provide a standard way to give the public permission to share and use your work, under conditions of your choice. Creative Commons (CC) licenses are not an alternative to copyright and work alongside copyright to reserve certain rights for themselves and those to whom they grant permission.

For more information about Creative Commons, see U-M's Creative Commons LibGuide.


The above definitions are adapted from UNT's Open Access Glossary.