Open access resources

A guide to finding freely accessible resources and scholarly research

Open access research

There are two main ways that researchers make their work available via open access:

  1. Publishing research in an open access journal
    Referred to as Gold Open Access, where free and full online access is provided to an article from first publication
  2. Depositing research into an open access repository
    Referred to as Green Open Access, providing access to a publication that is behind a paywall by sharing a version of this work in a repository. There can be some time delays and other limitations to this access. 

For a more information about the different types of open access journals see the helpful table at the Open Access Journals Toolkit.

Open access journals

Open access journals deliver their entire contents for free online. Publishers have different business models to achieve this, which sometimes require authors, universities or funding bodies to pay an article processing charge. Many publishers are non-profit, such as Public Library of Science (PLOS), and only charge fees to offsets publication expenses. 

Genuine or quality open access publishers need to be distinguished from ‘predatory publishers’ who exploit researchers through charging fees, do not adhere to scholarly publishing standards, make false claims, or have low editorial quality. Find out more about this practice on ABC’s Background Briefing.


Directories for open access journals

Open access repositories

Open access repositories are archives or databases where researchers, publishers, or institutions deposit research outputs for anyone to access and reuse. Articles that are published behind a paywall in an academic journal may also be accessible elsewhere in a repository.

Open access versions of a published article may have an embargo period of months to years, and will not be available in a repository until this time elapses. If available in a repository, often it is a slightly different version from the published article depending on publishers’ requirements and agreement. The following terms help to understand these versions:

Preprints are an author's draft of an article before it has been reviewed by the publisher or undergone a peer-review process.

Postprints are an author's copy of an article that has been corrected and accepted by a publisher, but has not been formatted for publication.

Published version is the final formatted article and reflects how it appears in a journal in print or online.

There are a number of different types of repositories: institutional such as a university; disciplinary or subject-based; and funding bodies like governments. To be considered open access a repository should conform to the standards of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI)

Directories for OA repositories

Open Access repositories for science research

There are a number of popular discipline-specific open access repositories for the sciences.

Open Access Journals Toolkit

The Open Access Journals Toolkit is supporting the scholarly community start and manage open access journals. This website provides a range of resources and practical advise aimed at helping more people to start and successfully run and open access journals, covering the topics:

  • Getting started
  • Running a journal
  • Indexing
  • Staffing
  • Policies
  • Infrastructure

Open access logo

Look out for this logo that indicates articles and journals that are open access.


The Unpaywall browser extension for Chrome and Firefox helps you find freely accessible research articles. Every time you navigate to a journal article blocked by a paywall, the extension checks its database to see whether the article exists freely elsewhere, and links you to it. Unpaywall works by harvesting content from existing open repositories.

Open access eBooks

Although open access is a term usually used to refer to academic articles, it is also possible to find whole eBooks which have been made open access. These books are generally academic in nature, but can also be books of literature where copyright has passed into the public domain, or when they have been made open access with the permission of the publisher or copyright holder. Some popular OA book resources are listed below:

Open access theses and dissertations

Many graduate researchers choose to publish their thesis or dissertation in open access repositories. Often, the benefits arising from the exposure that this can give their research far outweigh any negatives. The AOASG has written about the Benefits of Open Access publishing.

Many universities host their own research repository for the publishing of theses and dissertations. Open Access Theses and Dissertations (OATD) is an index of over 3.5 million electronic theses and dissertations harvested from universities across the world so you can search them all at once.

If you’re looking for an Australian thesis, Trove is a great place to start, providing access to almost a million theses with links to an online digital version if available. There is a helpful guide on finding Australian theses through Trove.  

Government publications

The Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) is an open-access platform for public policy research in Australia. Subjects include environment, culture, communication, education and justice. Highlighted collections include Cultural Policy & Creative Industries, Digital Health Systems, Digital Inclusion, Family Violence Policy, First Peoples & Public Policy, Sustainable Urban Precincts and Wellbeing in the Digital Economy. This is an incredibly rich resource for anyone working or studying in the field of public policy.