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Reading Lists

What is open access?

Open access (OA) refers to free and unrestricted access to literature; in other words, making research available online with no cost to the reader. Many researchers will be familiar with using or publishing OA material, but it is also a useful way to make important and up-to-date research easily available to students to support them in their modules.

Because of this, the library promotes OA resources as an excellent source of academic content that is available online with no access restrictions. Using OA resources is more important than ever to ensure that students can access all of their resources online.

Why should I use open access content on my reading lists?

Using OA resources on your reading lists means that:

  • All students can access the resource online when they need to, without any restrictions.
  • Access is permanent, so if the institutional subscription changes it will not affect the OA content.
  • Students will be able to access material before the course starts or after they leave university, as they will not rely on institutional subscriptions.
  • You can add pre-prints to your reading list to be discussed in class, as these are early OA versions that haven’t been published or gone through a peer review process yet.
  • You are promoting good practice to potential future researchers through showcasing the benefits of publishing OA.
  • In using OA resources, you are highlighting a wider range of resources from a wider range of researchers.
  • OA resources are shared under creative commons licences, meaning there is less cause for concern around potential copyright restrictions preventing you from adding the material to your reading list.
  • If you add OA resources to your reading list, there will be no delay between adding them to the list and your students accessing them, as the library does not need to purchase the resource. This is especially helpful when adding resources to your list throughout the year.

Where to find open access content

Databases are a great place to start when searching for open access content. The list below highlights some of the most useful databases when looking for open access resources.

Another way to locate open access content is to find out which open access publications are provided by publishers you may use regularly in your discipline. Follow the links below to see the open access resources provided by different publishers.

The below tools have been created to make locating open access versions of resources more straightforward. The plug-ins can be added to your browser, and if you hit a paywall while searching for material, they will alert you if there is an open access version available, before giving you the option to view this open access version. Please note these browser plug-ins are freely available tools that are not supported by the University of Essex Library Services.