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Open Access is an alternative method to research publication, often with a focus on peer-reviewed materials. According to SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), "Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results—to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives."
Open Access is not just a method for publication but a set of principles that pushes for more equitable access to information. Because information can be expensive to access (as is the case for the content you can access through our subscription databases), a barrier is created for those that are lower income, which widens the information gap between those with and those without. Open access is intended to bridge that gap.
This symbol is the official symbol of the Open Access movement, so databases in our Databases A-Z list with this symbol indicate that the item is openly accessible.
Image attribution: art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, and JakobVoss, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.