Open Access Publishing

What is Open Access? | Open Access Publishing Fund | More About Open Access

What Is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) refers to scholarly, research, or other creative material that is freely available online with no barriers to access and that one may be able to reuse and remix. While the OA movement is generally focused on journal articles, it increasingly applies to data, theses, dissertations, monographs, book chapters, and other media, as well.

What are the benefits of open access?

Rapid and broad sharing of knowledge via open access venues promotes innovation, the creation of culture, and economic growth. For example, scientists and researchers who have immediate access to time-sensitive publications may find new treatments for critically ill patients, information to detect or respond quickly to natural disasters, and preemptive solutions to economic crises. Whatever the situation or reason, knowledge that is current, scholarly, and made freely available online, will result in the greatest public benefit.

Scholarship that is less time sensitive will endure to be easily discovered and rediscovered through online tools that continue to increase in sophistication. Moreover, long-term preservation is more likely for digital content than content fixed in media that are susceptible to physical environmental fluctuations (like, paper).

On a personal level, open access publishing exposes your work to a limitless audience. In addition to your peers, there potentially will be new users, both lay and academic, who will discover and experience your work. Your audience, in turn, has the opportunity to provide you with significant feedback, making your research richer and more meaningful.

Green or Gold open access publishing models

For journal publishing, there are generally two paths to open access, Green and Gold.  In the Green OA model, an article is made openly available at some point after formal publication; whereas, in the Gold model, an article is freely available without delay upon publication.

Green Open Access self-archiving – the publisher allows authors to self-archive a version of the published work for free public use in their institutional repository, such as Mason Archival Repository Service (MARS; Learn more about archiving work in MARS…

Gold Open Access publishing – the work is initially published as freely available without access restrictions. There are various business approaches to support this model, including fees for authors to submit to a journal. Learn more about open access publishing…

Open Access Publishing Fund

The University Libraries offers financial support to eligible members of the Mason community to offset the costs of publishing in scholarly open access (OA) journals that charge author fees. Complete and submit the Open Access Publishing Fund (OAP Fund) application on the University Libraries’ website to apply for funds. Please read the following journal eligibility requirements before applying. Contact Jocelyn Lewis ( with any questions.

Most OA publications do not require payment because the host institution or a society absorbs the burden of cost. However, one OA business model currently practiced transfers the costs of publication from the end-user or an intermediary (i.e., the subscription model) to the producer (i.e., author). In this model, access to online articles is free of pay barriers, hence its label as “open access” content.¹ Users may print-out or electronically share these articles without payment to or permission from the copyright holder.

To that end, the Open Access Publishing Fund at Mason supports four broad goals:

  1. To encourage publication in scholarly open access journals.
  2. To reduce financial barriers to scholarly research,
  3. To disseminate scholarship produced at George Mason University as widely and immediately as possible, and
  4. To foster research and artistic collaboration among and between scholars at Mason and throughout the world.

Fund Details and Guidelines

The University Libraries generally allocates $25,000 per fiscal year to underwrite some or all of an article processing charge (APC) required by a reputable open access publisher. Researchers who receive grants that permit monies to be allocated for open access publication will not receive support from the OAP Fund (check ROARMAP to learn more about your funder’s policy).

Individuals eligible to apply for publisher payment of an APC may receive up to $3,000 per fiscal year, with a $3,000 cap per article. Financial support will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds are not distributed according to an individual’s affiliation with a particular school, college, or department. Nor is it the intention of this fund to endorse specific OA publishers or publications.

Journal eligibility

Criteria used to select an OA journal in which to publish mimics those to vet a traditional, subscription-based journal. That is, research the journal’s review process, reputation in the discipline, impact factor (or similar metric), and acceptance rate. In addition to the appropriateness of the subject content, these criteria may have bearing on your decision to submit to a particular journal.

Requirements must be met by a journal for an individual to apply for OAP funds. The journal must:


Authors may wish to publish in a journal that offers the option of paying a fee to make a subscription-based article immediately and freely available online (i.e., the “hybrid” model). Support for a hybrid journal’s optional open access fee will be considered if:

  1. the publisher is a non-profit society or institution,
  2. access to the journal’s proprietary content is available only through subscription with the society or institution and not through a for-profit aggregator like Proquest, Ebsco, or Elsevier,
  3. the fee and its use are clearly indicated on the journal or publisher website, and
  4. the fee is waived for authors from developing nations or those with demonstrated financial hardship.

Author eligibility

Who is eligible?

  • Any Mason faculty member
  • Graduate students
  • Post-doctoral fellows

An individual whose article has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed open access journal in which the article is immediately available online is eligible to apply. To apply, an author must complete and submit:

  • an OA Publishing Fund application,

as well as submit:

  • a letter of acceptance from the publisher,
  • a copy of the manuscript indicating affiliation of each author on the paper, and
  • a copy of the publisher’s invoice for the article processing fee (may not be immediately available).

Attach these digital files to the application or send them to:

Jocelyn Lewis
E-Resources Specialist
University Libraries
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, MS 2FL
Fairfax, VA 22030


Applicants will be notified of funding approval. Payment will be made directly to your publisher within five working days, or as soon as possible, upon receipt of an official invoice from the publisher. The University Libraries cannot reimburse an author.

Fees are pro-rated for multi-authored articles. That is, if more than one author from Mason applies for funding support for the same article, the article processing fee will be divided equally, up to the $3,000/article cap. Authors not affiliated with Mason are not supported. Consequently, a publisher’s invoice must indicate what portion of the fee George Mason University will be paying on behalf of the submitting Mason author; this is a Virginia state accounting requirement.

Payment of article processing charges to BioMed Central require a different payment scheme. If publishing with BMC, please contact Jocelyn Lewis ( for more details.

Alternative Funding

Researchers receiving support from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, may use grant monies to underwrite required open access publication of their findings and, often, their research data. Contact Jocelyn Lewis ( or Mason’s Office of Sponsored Research with questions or for assistance, as needed.

OA publishing subsidies may be available through discretionary departmental or college/school funds, as well. Monies from the OAP Fund may be combined with those from a department, college, or school, or personal funds.

Attribution Requirement

Authors who receive support, please include this statement in your acknowledgements: Publication of this article was funded in part by the George Mason University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

MARS Submittal Requirement

Authors who are supported by the OAP Fund are expected to deposit the article (“version of record”) in Mason’s digital repository, Mason Archival Repository Service (MARS), upon publication. Please send the article link to Jocelyn Lewis ( for this purpose.

More About Open Access

  • Open Access Directory (OAD) – A wiki maintained by the Open Access community that provides information on topics related to Open Access.
  • Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook (OASIS) – Aims to provide an authoritative ‘sourcebook’ on Open Access, covering the concept, principles, advantages, approaches and means to achieving it. The site highlights developments and initiatives from around the world, with links to diverse additional resources and case studies.
  • OpenDOAR – A directory of academic open access repositories that allows users to search for repositories and repository contents.
  • ROARMAP – (The Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies) an international registry that charts the growth of open-access mandates adopted by universities, research institutions, and research funders that require their researchers to provide open access to their peer-reviewed research articles by depositing them in an open access repository.