Open Access

What is Open Access?

Open Access is free instant online access to research. Open Access comes in two forms:
  • Open Access Journals, where articles are published to the journal’s website
  • Institutional Repositories, where universities collect the scholarly works of their faculty and students
UNL has an Institutional Repository (IR for short), called Digital Commons. It is the second largest in the United States (behind Michigan's "Deep Blue") with over 40,000 scholarly works.

What about Public Access?

Public Access is “eventual ”online access to research.
  • The NIH created public access policy in 2009 mandating all published works funded through NIH grants be available free online with 12 months of publication.
  • FRPAA, the Federal Right to Public Access Act that is currently in the US Congress, would mandate that any published works funded through one of eleven government agencies (including the NIH, NSF, and Department of Energy) be available free online within 6 months of publication.

Why is it Important to students at UNL?

Online access to scholarly works allows students quick and free access to current research. Students don’t have to deal with the hassle and wait of inter-library loan. It allows for students to quickly find research in their area or to even help them choose what area they wish to research!

What you can do!

Be sure to ask your professors or any fellow students if they know about open access. Ask them if they’ve ever considered publishing in open access journals or if they’ve submitted their Vita or a List of Publications to Paul Royster, the UNL Libraries Coordinator of Scholarly Communications and manager of UNL's Digital Commons, at so that his team can upload their publications and other works to Digital Commons. Of course, always be sure to follow your own advice!

Open/Public Access Advocacy at UNL:

Graduate Student Assembly

Association of Students at the University of Nebraska

Faculty Senate

UNL Libraries

  • Voting Member of the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)
  • Created Digital Commons(2005)
    • $125,000/yr budget (1.5FT faculty, software license, and student workers)
    • Students/Faculty send their work or a list of publications. Then the library does the rest! They’ll determine what is copyrighted and what works can be placed on the Institution Repository (IR). For anything that can be placed on the IR, they’ll find it, convert it to pdf, and upload it.