Open access publication routes

There are different ‘routes’ to open access publishing. The 'gold' route (including platinum/diamond, fully gold and hybrid) is via a publisher. The 'green' route is via author deposit into a repository. 

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Which version of your work to deposit

Check with your publisher (through Sherpa Romeo) and funder (through their funder requirements) which version of your research they will allow you to deposit.

Version of record: this is the publisher’s final, formatted version of an article. This is published open access if you are using the 'gold' route; via platinum/diamond, fully gold or paid-hybrid models.

Accepted manuscript (also known as author accepted manuscript or AAM): this is the author’s raw copy of the research, usually a word document or PDF. This is generally what you would deposit via the 'green' route. 

Open Access Button has produced two useful guides: 

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Open access via the publisher – the 'gold' route

Gold route models

There are three models for the 'gold' route:

  • diamond/platinum
  • fully gold
  • hybrid subscription.

The difference is in how the open access publishing element is financed. There is no difference in the quality of the research, and for all of the models the work will be peer reviewed. 


After peer review and edits, the work is published immediately open access in an online format (it may also be printed) and is stored in the publisher’s system. 

How it is funded:

  • Platinum, also known as diamond, open access is a subset of ‘gold' open access, where journals do not charge the author because they receive alternative sources of funding. 

An example of a diamond/platinum route journal is Digital Medievalist, which is funded by consortia of funders including libraries.

Fully gold

After peer review and edits, the work is published immediately open access in an online format (it may also be printed) and is stored in the publisher’s system. 

How it is funded:

  • Publishers may charge a fee to the author or their institution. This is known as the Article Processing Charge (APC). This covers the cost of making the whole journal open access.

An example of a 'gold' route journal is PLOS One.

Hybrid subscription

After peer review and edits, the work is published. 

If a fee has been paid, the work is made immediately open access in an online format and is stored in the publisher’s system.

If there is no fee payment, the article is not open access. The author can make the work open access via self-deposit (see 'green' route open access below).

How it is funded:

  • Journals charge a fee (APC) to the author or their institution. Unlike fully gold open access journals this fee makes the single work (such as an article) open access. The rest of the journal will still be behind a paywall. 
  • If you pay an APC to a hybrid journal, this will make your article open access. You will be asked to assign a licence.

An example of a hybrid journal is Antiquity.

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Open access via author deposit – the 'green' route

After peer review and edits, the author deposits a copy of the the work in an online repository, where it is stored. Examples are Oxford University Research Archive, ORA (institutional repository) or Europe PMC (subject-based repository).

The work may also be published via the publisher - see 'gold' route models above.

In some cases, your funder will designate a repository you should use.

The version of the paper an author can deposit is usually the ‘accepted manuscript’. However some journals will allow deposit of the version of record (you can use the Sherpa Romeo tool to work out what is allowed).

This route is sometimes known as self-deposit or self-archiving.

How it is funded:

  • This route is free for the author to use. Funding for the repository is managed by the repository owner, such as an institution, commercial publisher or subject-group.

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Self-deposit, green open access, repositories and depositing

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An open access repository is an online service which stores, preserves, disseminates and allows free access to the research publications of an institution or scholarly community. 

They are used for ‘green’ open access. 

A repository:

  • acts as a permanent and stable archive
  • usually has institutional or funder support and staffing
  • is organised and managed
  • uses international standards
  • can assign a digital object identifier (DOI) and permanent URLs
  • allows the author to indicate the copyright and licensing status of their work.

Repositories are usually freely available to access, with no login required. 

Some journals allow you to post your accepted manuscript immediately on your personal or departmental website. However, posting on these or on social media sites like ResearchGate or will not fulfil requirements for open access. This is usually because these sites do not have the appropriate preservation or metadata standards.

Read more about the difference between institutional repositories and social media networking sites

OpenDOAR is a global directory of open access repositories that are recognised by funders.  
It includes:

The Oxford University Research Archive (ORA) was set up in 2007 as a permanent and secure online archive of research materials produced by members of the University of Oxford. It includes material from all disciplines within the University departments, providing a single point public access to this content. This also allows the University to comply with funders’ open access requirements.

The archive maintains:

  • peer-reviewed journal articles 
  • conference proceedings by Oxford authors 
  • Oxford research theses
  • working papers
  • reports
  • book sections
  • other ‘grey literature’
  • unpublished academic work
  • research data.

ORA is maintained by staff within the Bodleian Digital Libraries System and Services Department of the Bodleian Libraries. 

To see a ‘how to’ guide on using the archive, go to Deposit your work in ORA.

The current Research Excellence Framework (REF) open access policy needs you to deposit your articles in ORA even if you are also using a subject repository such as arXiv or EuropePMC. Subject repositories do not meet REF’s metadata requirements (such as collecting date of acceptance) and also may not meet Research England’s open access policy requirements.

Open access and embargoes – applied on 'green' route open access

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An embargo is an access restriction applied to a piece of research for a particular time period. 

Embargoes usually come from publishers and apply to articles. Sometimes an author might request an embargo for an unpublished work such as a thesis, working paper or patent. 

In the context of open access, there are two types of embargo: publication embargo and press embargo.

If you are depositing your work via the green route, the publisher might impose an embargo so that the full text is not available immediately. 

The length of these embargoes varies, with an average of 12 months for STEM subjects and 24 for humanities and social sciences. Some publishers have no embargo and allow the manuscripts to be made available either when the article is accepted or when it is published. 

You can find out if your journal applies an embargo using Sherpa Romeo.

The Oxford University Research Archive (ORA) team check publication embargoes when they process your submission. They will apply any publication embargoes and ensure that the full text is made available only after the specified time period has elapsed.

This means that a record is created in ORA and the metadata may appear in outlets such as Google Scholar, social media and internet search engines, but the full text of your article is not available and cannot be downloaded until after the embargo date.

A press embargo is a request by a publisher’s PR department for journalists to wait until the publication date before publicly covering the publication. This allows publishers to provide a paper to journalists a few days in advance so they have time to prepare their stories.

This might apply to the full text, the bibliographic record (metadata) or the abstract.

Press embargoes do not usually prevent the bibliographic details (metadata) or abstract of the article being available online before publication. These do not normally count as pre-publicity.

However, some journals or publishers have a policy of a full press embargo, which means no record or metadata can be available in ORA until the research is published.

As with publication embargoes, the ORA team check press embargoes as part of their workflow.

They are aware of the main publishers that have embargo policies, but you can also let them know using the Comments box in Symplectic Elements. 

If you are worried about breaking a press embargo, you can contact the ORA team for advice.

In some cases, you may not wish to have the metadata about your article made available before publication. This might be because you want to announce the research at a conference, or if you have a patent claim on the work, or because your publisher will not allow it.

The University still needs you to submit your paper to ORA on acceptance. The current Research Excellence Framework (REF) policy requires papers to be uploaded to the University repository within 3 months of acceptance even if they are fully embargoed.

The ORA team will ensure it is kept under a full embargo and it won’t appear in any search results (such as Google or Google Scholar) until the publication date.

Europe PubMed Central (EPMC) and PubMed Central (PMC) 

PubMed Central and its European equivalent Europe PMC are major subject-based repositories for medicine and science research. If you work in these fields it is likely that you will consider Europe PMC as your deposit location for green open access.

  • PubMed Central (PMC) is an electronic archive of full-text journal articles, providing free access to its contents. It is hosted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).
  • Europe PMC is the European partner of PubMed Central and a repository of choice for many international science funders including Wellcome, UKRI and the European Commission. 
  • PMC (the US site) and EPMC (the European equivalent) overlap in content. As an Oxford University researcher, you will normally deposit into Europe PMC and this will make your work available in both.
  • Related to these is PubMed, a database of journal abstracts.

You can find out more about PubMed and PubMed Central in their PMC FAQs page.

Depositing in EPMC

Europe PMC Plus is the submission system used to deposit items into EPMC.

If you are funded by Wellcome, the Medical Research Council or other funders that require deposit in EPMC, you will need to provide them with your PubMed Central reference number, known as a PMCID. They need this for reporting and compliance checking.

You can get a PMCID by depositing your manuscript in EPMC and it being made live in the system.

Note: This is different from a PMID, which is the reference number that links to your abstract in the PubMed database.

Read the user guide for how to deposit into EPMC

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Diagram: Publishing open access at Oxford

Sometimes it helps to visualise a process. OAOxford have created the below flow chart to assist more visual researchers in understanding the processes for open access.

Download an accessible, printable version with clickable links


Illustrative diagram of the workflow for publishing open access – use the above hyperlink to access a screen-reader accessible PDF

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