Open Access, Scholarly Works, and You!

There’s been a lot of buzz in recent years about the ‘open access’ movement in academia. So, what is it exactly? While we could delve into some serious history, we’ll try to keep this one brief.  In a nutshell, many people (academics, researchers, etc.) are frustrated by the restrictive cost barriers involved in accessing scholarly publications.  The idea is that scholarship should be shared and would be accelerated were scholarly works more readily available and affordable to those who need access to them most. Of course, there are many definitions of Open Access and several takes on its relationship to copyright, but the heart of the argument is to make scholarly content more widely and freely available and reusable.

Check out this 3-minute video from the Right to Research Coalition to learn more:

Currently, many wonderful open access resources exist. One such example is the Directory of Open Access Journals .


While this database is listed in Fielding’s library and indexed in FASTsearch, it may be unfamiliar to many of our students and faculty. As of the time this post was published, the DOAJ boasted access to 10,193 journals and 1,827,802 articles!  Further, DOAJ seeks to index high-quality open access journals, which have typically undergone specific peer-review/quality control measures.  Hence, just because a journal is freely accessible, this does not mean that quality measures or rigorous academic review have fallen by the wayside.

Just as with other academic databases, DOAJ includes specific search functions to allow you to discover the open access content you need.

And why stop with journals?  A companion site from the same developers offers access to books, so be sure to check out the Directory of Open Access Books as well!

With such a rapidly growing movement, more and more open access repositories and directories are cropping up all the time.  Here is a list of a few more you want to check out on your own:

  • OpenStax  – providing freely accessible, peer-reviewed textbooks on major subjects.
  • Public Library of Science (PLOS)  – Open Access journals focused most heavily on the fields of science and medicine
  • Jurn — advertised as a “unique search-engine primarily dedicated to indexing free and ‘open access’ ejournals in the arts and humanities”.  View their blog to learn more, or visit to search.

Fielding students can contribute to this movement by considering publishing their own dissertations as open access documents.  ProQuest Dissertations allows students to choose either ‘open access’ or ‘traditional publishing’.  When it comes time for you to publish your own work, be sure to check out both options! View Fielding’s Dissertation Publishing statement or ProQuest’s Open Access publishing webpage to learn more.

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