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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.

Why Open Access Matters

Below are some resources that help tell the story of OA’s value to individual researchers and educational institutions with diverse missions and sizes.

These resources focus on user-generated stories about the value of OA to their lives, the financial importance of OA to libraries with tight budgets, and the value of OA in promoting reproducibility of scientific research.

User Stories

The Harvard DASH User Stories show the value of OA, as shared by curious minds around the world. OA benefits readers of scholarship beyond the walls of affluent research universities, from high school teachers to social workers, from aspiring novelists to fixed-income retirees, from young students to single parents completing online degrees, and many others.

The “Serials Crisis” in Academic Libraries

Library expenditures on academic journals have grown dramatically in the past four decades, squeezing budgets and limiting the accessibility of scholarship for even wealthy research universities, not to mention smaller institutions or educational organizations in the developing world. Thus, need for new models of scholarly communication have grown over time, lending momentum to OA approaches.

For an illustration of the growth in serial expenditures, see a graph produced by Association of Research Libraries, titled “Monograph and Serial Costs in ARL Libraries, 1986–2011,” Research Library Issues no. 280 (Sept. 2012): page 22 (

For a more recent graph looking at serial expenditures in university libraries, see this page from the Association of Research Libraries: “Expenditure Trends in ARL University Libraries, 1998-2018.”

Open Science and Research Reproducibility

“Reproducibility means that research data and code are made available so that others are able to reach the same results as are claimed in scientific outputs. Closely related is the concept of replicability, the act of repeating a scientific methodology to reach similar conclusions. These concepts are core elements of empirical research.” Open Science Training Handbook