Open Access


Open Access Fund Program


UPDATE (March 16, 2015): Due to a high volume of applications, we are unable to accept any more applications at this time. Please check back on this page or the library's blog for information about future OA Author Fund programs.

The Health Sciences Library's Open Access Fund is for students and early career professionals. The award can be used to pay for the entire cost of the "author/article processing charge" (APC) for fully open access journals (see examples below). This policy for fully OA journals is new with the Spring round. For hybrid journals, the award will pay up to $1000.

Open Access journals allow authors to distribute their intellectual property without any restrictions, and usually permit them to retain copyright ownership. Hybrid journals are not open access but allow authors to pay the APC in order to make their article openly accessible.  In contrast to the traditional journal model in which the author is restricted from distributing her work and the reader has to pay to access it (via subscriptions), in the OA model the author pays to publish his work and readers have no limitations to access it.

Despite costs to authors, there is growing evidence that many articles published as open access are more widely noticed and downloaded than articles published in subscription-based journals (see for example, Davis 2011).   For more information about the Open Access movement, please see the OA FAQs.

The HSL Open Access Fund or OAF is meant to encourage researchers who have little or no financial support to pay for any type of publication fee.  Generally speaking, these scholars tend to be students, residents, post-doctoral fellows, and early-career faculty; these individuals will receive priority therefore for an OAF award.

While the OAF can be used to pay the APC of an open access journal of the author's choice, in order to avoid fraudulent journals, the library will restrict the range of acceptable journals to those that are known to be legitimate. They include most members of the Open Access Scholarly Publisher's Association  or those known to comply with its Code of Conduct.  Examples of these publishers or journals are: Biomed Central, JMIR Publications,  PeerJ,  PLoS , and others.  All journals will be assessed by the OAF committee for legitimacy and for their requirements.  Ideally, journals should allow the authors to retain copyright to their articles and not merely permit their distribution within limits.  


  • Affiliated with CU Anschutz
  • Early-career author (see Funding Priorities below)
  • Publishing in a reputable OA journal 
  • Article is accepted (and APC has not been paid) or submitted. NOTE: We cannot consider applications for articles that are still under preparation.
  • No other funding source except personal funds
  • Substantive contribution to the article

IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE, Funding Priorities are as follows:

  1. Students
  2. Residents, Fellows, Post-Doctoral Fellows, Junior Faculty (within 5 years of the start of his/her career)
  3. Other faculty


  • The Health Sciences Library will award the entire cost per applicant of a fully open access journal's author/article processing charge (APC). The award cannot be used to fund other fees such as "submission charges," "review charges," or "page charges."
  • The maximum award per applicant for a hybrid journal is $1000 to be used only for the APC.  The award cannot be used to fund other fees such as "submission charges," "review charges," or "page charges."
    • If the APC is less than $1000, the award amount will equal the APC amount – i.e. your award will also be less than $1000.
    • If the APC is more than $1000, the maximum award is $1000 and the author is responsible for paying the difference to the publisher.
      • Example: If the APC for a hybrid journal is $3,000, the library will pay $1,000 and the author is responsible for the remaining $2,000.
    • Payment details: Awards are paid once the library receives a copy of the publisher's invoice. We cannot reimburse individuals and cannot issue checks.
    • Applications must be received by the specified date.
      • Applicants who meet all eligibility criteria will be considered on a first-come first-served basis within the application period.
      • Every application will be reviewed by the OAF committee for eligibility.
      • We cannot consider past recipients of the OAF for a new award.


Requirements for applicants who are identified as award recipients:

  • Provide an invoice for the APC from the journal publisher
  • Upon publication, submit the article to the Health Sciences Library’s institutional repository, Digital Collections of Colorado with a signed Deposit Agreement (see link to the Agreement near the bottom). Make sure you have the proper copyright permissions or you own copyright to your article.
  • Complete a short evaluation form which will be emailed later.


Please contact Lilian Hoffecker 303-724-2124 or Heidi Zuniga 303-724-2134.

Open Access FAQs

Under Open Access, literature “… is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” Peter Suber, Senior Researcher for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). It contrasts with the most prevalent and traditional method of scholarly communication in which publishers obtain copyright from authors and disseminate research literature for a fee to subscribers.

Generally speaking there are three: 

1. Self-archiving involves the direct deposit of scholarly works into an open repository often defined by subject (sometimes called a central repository – PubMed Central is one example) or by institution (an institutional repository or IR). It is not a publishing method and its express purpose is to make information as accessible as possible. Self-archived works may be published, to-be-published (pre- and post-prints), or unpublished (many theses and conference papers). Besides text, content may contain data or be multimedia in format. This route to OA is known as the GREEN Road.

2. OA journals publish scholarly information and give full text access for free. There are a growing number of these journals including those associated with the Public Library of Science (PLoS) and BioMed Central. In the traditional system of scholarly communication, the publisher subsidizes the costs of journal production and distribution through individual and institutional (primarily library) subscribers, i.e., the “readers.” OA journal publishers on the other hand, have different business models, only one of which is the “author-pay” approach in which the authors not the readers fund the costs of publishing articles online. Unlike works in an IR, research articles in these OA publications are largely peer-reviewed, some very selective of their content. This route is called the GOLD Road. 

3. Increasingly OA proponents identify a third model, the Hybrid OA model. Here publishers offer authors the option of open access of their works for a fee. For example, under Springer’s Open Choice program for a $3000 fee, authors can retain copyright and freely distribute their published works.

Many events came together to focus attention on the need to increase access to information and importantly to make OA a practical possibility. You can view the details on the timeline of the open access movement but a few of the early highlights include:

Since information in self-archived repositories is not necessarily peer-reviewed, isn't the content potentially of lower quality than what is found in traditional journals? Each repository develops its own policies on who may submit and what can be submitted. Some have strict guidelines and membership requirements others are more open. For example arXiv, the mathematics and physics central repository, is very open, accepting primarily pre- and post-prints. To ensure a minimal level of quality however, it utilizes a system of moderators who can reject items based on inappropriate subject matter, inappropriate format of the submission, duplicated content, or submission of copyright protected material. However, experience from other high energy physics repositories is that most content in fact has been subjected to internal review prior to submission to arXiv or an alternative repository. Many deposited articles in fact go on to be formally submitted for publication.

According to a study conducted for the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the UK, Houghton and co-authors in their January 2009 report compare the economics of different publishing/archiving models. They estimate expenditures per article in the UK for publishing, production and dissemination of e-only (online only, no print version) access to be as follows: toll or subscription access £8,296 (about $13,800), open access £7,483 (about $12,500), and self-archiving £7,115 (about $11,800).

The Health Sciences Library piloted the OA Fund program in the Spring of 2013.  The 2014 OA Fund Program will be offered soon. 

Some OA journals will waive the author fee.  SpringerOpen routinely waives the author processing charge for authors from nations with "lower-income" or "lower-middle income" economies.  

One metric that is frequently used to understand the degree to which articles of a journal are noticed is the “impact factor” or IF. Journal Citation Reports (JCR) calculates the IF for many science and social science journals giving authors, readers, and publishers a rough estimate of the visibility of a journal. The JCR database includes many OA journals some that have surprisingly high IF’s given their very short publication history. For example, PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine, both no more than 10 years old, ranked number 1 (out of 86 journals) and number 5(out of 153) in their respective JCR categories of Biology, and General/Internal Medicine.  Several studies have also shown that free online articles increase citation rates (see for example, Lawrence, 2001 or Eysenbach 2006).

Another class of research metrics known as  "altmetrics" (alternative metrics) takes into account the rate at which articles are downloaded, mentioned or archived in various social media. The effect of information dissemination via websites such as Mendeley, CiteULike, and Twitter as well as many blogs is almost immediate providing seemingly real-time measures of the influence of an article.  

In a study published in Science in February 2010, authors Evans and Reimer determined that people tended to cite OA journals more than non-OA journals by about 8%. But more striking was the difference in citation rate among poor nations (defined by gross national income) where the researchers in these countries cited OA journals as much as 20-25% more frequently.

Currently there are several proposed or active federal mandates in the U.S.  There are also various state proposed policies.  Listed below are the federal laws and bills.

  • The NIH Public Access Policy Act was signed by former President George W. Bush into law in December 2007. It mandates all recipients of NIH funding to deposit into PubMed Central , an open online repository, all publications upon acceptance resulting from the funded project. After a 12 month embargo period following publication, articles are to become openly accessible.
  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued an open access directive in February 2013. The OSTP directive requires federal agencies with $100 million of extramural research and developement expenditures to devise a plan for their grant recipients to deposit  publications as well as scientific data resulting  in a publicly accessible respository.  In June 2013, the Association of Research Libraries in partnership with several higher education associations, unveiled its strategy for complying with the OSTP mandate.  Known as Shared Access Research Ecosystem or Share, it calls for the use of digital repositories of academic institutions already in place to become the recipeints of publications and data.
  • Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) bill was introduced in Congress in February 2013 (HR 708S 350).  Similar to the OSTP directive, it requires researchers with funding from federal agencies with extramural budgets exceeding $100 million to deposit their publications into publicly accessible repositories within 6 months. 
  • The bill for the Public Access to Public Science Act (PAPS) was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives in September 2013.  It requires public access to research publications immediately after the publisher's embargo period.  Unlike the OSTP directive and FASTR, the agencies covered by PAPS includes only the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Weather Service. 

The library is a partner in the Digital Collections of Colorado, an openly accessible digital repository where authors can deposit their manuscripts  or other works.  For more information about the repository, please go to its resource guide.

  • the authors of scholarly works who, under the OA model, will have greater control over their intellectual property rights;
  • the research community which will see partnerships grow because information is easily shared;
  • the patient who can access research information that directly addresses his or her personal health concern;
  • the taxpayer who helps fund research through public grants.

See also SPARC's comments on the benefits of institutional repositories

Please contact Lilian Hoffecker 303-724-2124 or Heidi Zuniga 303-724-2134

Health Sciences Library | University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Mail Stop A003, 12950 E. Montview Blvd., Aurora, CO 80045, USA Tel: 303-724-2152