What is Open Access Publishing?

By 'open access' to this literature, we mean its 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 Budapest Open Access Initiative »

Hindawi publishes all of our journals using a Gold Open Access model. All articles published in Hindawi journals are available to readers completely free of charge. Access is made possible by a fee for publication that is paid at the time of article acceptance, usually by an author’s institution or funder. Articles become available immediately upon publication, and a visitor to Hindawi.com can immediately access, download, print, and read any published article in its entirety. Author(s) retain copyright of their work, but readers are free to reuse the material (providing proper citations are given), as all Hindawi articles are published under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY).


Open Access is a reaction to the traditional, subscription-based model of scholarly publishing. Under the subscription system, anyone wishing to read an article has to pay a fee to the publisher. At an institutional level this is usually arranged by the library, which agrees to pay the publisher in order for its members to have access to relevant journals. Subscriptions originally would have involved the physical delivery of printed copies of the journal, but today’s publishers have almost entirely adopted digital delivery. More recently, subscriptions have involved bulk journal packages with large publishers, commonly referred to as ‘big deals’.

When institutional access is not available, individual readers may have to purchase access to journals – or specific articles – themselves at significant personal cost. With a subscription model, researchers and institutions have to carefully consider how they allocate funds. Many articles remain locked behind paywalls, limiting access to only the largest institutions and denying access to the general public. This causes frustration and, more importantly, hampers scientific progress. This model causes gaps to appear between institutions with different levels of funding and disadvantages researchers from developing regions.

Public money and charitable organizations fund most current academic research. In effect, this model makes readers purchase access to materials that they helped fund through government spending and charitable donations.


Open Access ensures that articles are free at the point of consumption. Rather than charge for access, Open Access publishers apply an initial fee at the time an article is accepted for publication. This fee, known as an Article Processing Charge (APC), covers the costs of the production process. Often this charge will be covered by the authors’ affiliated institution(s), or by the funding body responsible for commissioning the research. See ‘What are Article Processing Charges?’ for more details.

By using a liberal copyright license, Open Access removes barriers and allows researchers to make use of articles in new ways. This includes practices like meta-analysis and text mining, which help reveal trends in science that would not be obvious at the level of individual articles.


The following infographic explains the benefits of Open Access publishing – Open Access Explained: An Infographic.