Open Access

Open Access

Open Access Explained

Open Access

How do I comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications?

To find out, use the Open Access Interactive Tool

Open Access Explained

As of May 1st, 2015, open access is mandated by the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications.

Open Access is the "free, immediate, online availability of research articles combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment." - SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)

Open access is a growing international movement that continues to gain momentum worldwide. Based on the principle that all research should be freely accessible online after publication, open access removes barriers that once restricted public access to scholarly research and knowledge.

The Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications has required all researchers funded by NSERCSSHRC, or CIHR from May 1, 2015 to make their peer-reviewed journal articles freely available online within 12 months of publication.

The compliance requirements for health researchers have not changed, but CIHR-funded researchers must now refer to the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications

Several funding agencies already mandate open access. Visit SHERPA/JULIET, a database of research funders' open access policies, to learn more.

McMaster University Senate recently passed a motion to sign the Berlin Declaration encouraging McMaster researchers to make their work open access.

Open access journals make research freely available online to anyone with access to the internet.

It can provide immediate, public access to research funded by taxpayers.

Open access means greater dissemination of knowledge, a larger research impact, and potential for higher citation rates. Evidence for increased citations with open access can be found at the Open Access Citation Advantage Service website.

Altmetric tools such as ORCID, are available to help track your research impact with accuracy.

  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ): provides access to full text, quality controlled, scholarly open access journals in a variety of disciplines.
  • MacSphere: An online institutional repository of McMaster’s open access scholarly output.
  • OpenDOAR: A global directory of open access institutional or subject-based repositories

Yes. Many open access journals are peer-reviewed. Most self-archived articles have also been peer-reviewed.

Open access is free to users, but all publishing has a cost. A number of business models support open access publishing. Some open access journals charge a publishing fee to offset these costs.

Some open access journals charge authors a publishing fee. Many non-open access journals also make page or author charges in addition to subscription charges to readers. The Tri-Agency Open Access Policy identifies the cost of publishing as an eligible expense under the Use of Grant Funds

Use SHERPA/JULIET to find more info about research funders’ open access policies

McMaster University does not offer grants for Author Processing Charges (APC). However, researchers at McMaster are currently eligible for some open access publishing discounts as a benefit of subscriptions paid for by the McMaster University Libraries. To learn more about the discounts, please see the Library Support for Open Access web page.

Funding Sources - Some granting agencies allow author costs as an eligible expense. Grant opportunities and their related policies can be accessed through the following websites:

  • ROADS (Research Office for Administration, Development and Support)
  • HRS (Health Research Services)


Questions? Email the Office of Scholarly Communication at

Download and Customize for your Institution

Download the Open Access Interactive Tool and promotional video package

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Open Access Interactive Tool, Outcome Documents, and Promotional Materials by McMaster University Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Open Access Publishing

Open Access Publishing

McMaster Library supports Open Access Publishing (OA) and is happy to assist faculty and students that are interested in making their work freely available.

  • You can adhere to the Tri-Agency Policy on Publications in one of two ways:
    • "Submit your manuscript to a journal that offers immediate open access or offers open access to the paper on its website within 12 months of publication."
    • "Submit your manuscript to a journal that does not offer open access, but will permit you to archive the peer-reviewed manuscript in a central or institutional repository within 12 months of publication."
  • Final peer-reviewed version of your work will be openly available on the publisher's website and discoverable wherever the publisher has indexed it leading to:
    • increased interaction resulting in increased number of views and citations
    • improved education and public access
  1.  Use the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) to browse journals connected to your research interests.
  2. Follow Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) guidelines for assessing journals.
  3. Search for Open Access Journals using search engines and evaluate by considering:
    • are articles from this journal being cited in other reputable journals?
    • are reputable authors being published in this journal?

The development of Open Access Publishing has seen the rise of predatory publishers that seek to exploit the OA model. The primary goal of these publishers is to make a profit by engaging in questionable editorial and publishing practices.

A Predatory Journal may:

  • appear as unsolicited spam from a non academic email account and include a lot of spelling and grammatical errors
  • not provide the name of their editors or editorial board
  • not provide an address or give a fake address
  • promise rapid publication (i.e. little or no peer review)
  • make false claims (i.e. regarding impact factor and indexing)
  • advertise special offers (i.e. reduced fees or limited time discounts)

For more information about predatory publishers, see Identifying Deceptive Publishers: A Checklist.

Library Support for Open Access

Library Support for Open Access

McMaster University Libraries Investment in Open Access

McMaster University researchers are entitled to discounts on Article Processing Charges (APCs) in the following journals or journal packages as a result of memberships negotiated and paid for by the Library. Identify yourself as affiliated with McMaster and the CRKN Consortium to receive the discounts.

  1. American Chemical Society (ACS)
    Receive an additional 25% discount on ACS Author Choice Open Access services.
  2. NRC Research Press (Canadian Science Publishing)
    Per-article fees are reduced from $3000 to $1500 for CRKN members.
  3. SAGE Journals
    Authors who self-identify as affiliated with a CRKN institution will receive a 40% discount. Some society journals are excluded.
  4. SynFacts (Thieme)
    Claim one of 10 SynOpen vouchers to publish in SynFacts.

The Library provides funding to the following organizations to help support the open dissemination of content:

Our Library memberships support platforms, infrastructure, and open access initiatives more broadly:


For more information on publishing and library support, contact

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