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Open Access

Open access (OA) is a publishing model that provides an alternative to traditional, subscription-based scholarly publishing. OA does not change how information is created; rather, it changes how it is accessed and shared, by making information freely available online, to everyone, from anywhere.

What is Open Access?

For a publication, resource, or initiative to be considered open access, it must be free of

  • price barriers such as paywalls, subscription costs to end users, or other charges or fees that require paid access to the materials; and 
  • overly restrictive copyright or licenses that severely limit sharing or (re)distribution of the materials. 

Peter Suber's Open Access Overview is an excellent introduction to this topic. For details on key issues for open access, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) provides a great overview.

Open Access at MRU

The University Library actively supports open access publishing and related initiatives, including:

Open access fund

The Library currently offers an open access fund to support scholarly publishing by MRU authors. This new initiative aims to support our authors in the open dissemination of their research by reimbursing eligible open access fees related to publishing their research.

Open access repository

The MRU Library maintains an open access institutional repository, launched in 2014. Open access repositories typically consist of disciplines' or institutions' archived research materials and distributes that material for free via the Internet. An authoritative list of other open access repositories is available via the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR).

Open access journal system

The Library maintains an open access journal system and currently hosts several journals maintained by students and faculty of our university using the popular Open Journals Systems platform. Members of the MRU community who are interested in establishing an OA journal can contact Richard Hayman, Digital Initiatives Librarian, at

Open access collections

The Library includes a large and varied selection of scholarly open access content in our collections. We regularly work with our consortial partners (e.g., CRKN, COPPUL) and the greater library community to seek opportunities to support OA, and we actively participate in and financially support open access collections and publishing initiatives. Current projects that we support include the Érudit Partnership, the Open Library of Humanities, Open Book Publishers,  and PKP - Public Knowledge Project.


Library position statement on open access: In 2014 the Library Faculty Council affirmed the Library's committment to open acccess with this position statement.

Benefits and challenges

There are a variety of benefits and challenges to the open access publishing model.

Some benefits

  • Increased access and audience: Open access publications are freely available, giving anyone, anywhere, the ability to find, read, and share your research. Unlike traditional, subscription publications, OA resources do not charge expensive fees (paywalls) or require users to pay before they can view the content.
  • Citation advantage: With more people reading your work, better access leads to increased citation rates for authors. Known as the open access citation advantage, several studies have demonstrated the value of OA. SPARC Europe maintained a list of studies that examined the OA citation advantage through 2016, but ceased that project now that this benefit is well-known.
  • Research belongs to the public: In Canada, most researchers and their universities receive public funding through grants, operating budgets, salaries, and more. The research funded by public tax dollars should be available to the public, as quickly as possible. 

Some challenges

  • Perceptions about rigour and quality: Misperceptions around the quality of open access publications represent a major challenge, and many continue to question whether articles published in an open access journal are of lower quality than those published in a traditional journal. The truth is that legitimate OA journals use the same quality control processes used by traditional journals, including including rigorous peer-review, editorial oversight, systems for retraction, and expectations of professional and ethical behaviour by researchers and publishers.
  • Predatory publishing: This model relies on fraudulent and deceptive practices to exploit those authors seeking to publish via open access. They are profit-driven, charging authors significant fees to publish their research without providing the rigourous peer-review and editorial oversight mentioned above. Predatory publishers have recognizable characteristics, but scholars need to inform themselves and be vigilant when considering where to publish. 

Related Topics

Author Rights

In most cases, authors who publish via an open access model retain more rights over their works than when publishing under a traditional model. Open access is about distribution and making information available; it does not significantly change the production of research and does not seek to change author rights. Authors who publish via open access agree to right of use, allowing unrestricted distribution (reading, downloading, copying, sharing, storing, and printing) of the full-text work, so long as the original author is given credit. Authors may choose to license their works under open content licensing, such as Creative Commons.

To search for permissions given by publishers as part of a journal publisher's copyright transfer agreement see the SHERPA/RoMEo tool.

Intellectual property

Open access does not change intellectual property rights. Intellectual property includes patents, copyright, trade-marks, and industrial design. These rights protect intangible subjects that are produced as a result of human creativity. Intellectual property rights mean that other people can be stopped from using the "property" and that the rights can be transferred. For information about intellectual property in Canada see the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.


Unlike norms in traditional publishing, authors typically remain as copyright holders but allow for the general public to freely use and redistribute their work, giving credit to the author. Most journals that use an open access model ensure that works are published under the current copyright system or using a Creative Commons license.  Authors can agree to have their work publicly accessed or publicly accessed and modified. The Canadian Copyright Act is available online.

Library Open Access Fund

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is in the Fund?

We have set aside $15,000 (CDN) to reimburse authors for the current fiscal year.


How do I know if I am I eligible?

The Fund uses several eligibility criteria based on best practices. Please review the eligibility requirements section for more information.


How much am I eligible for as an author?

Reimbursement from the Fund is normally capped at $3,000 (CDN) per individual per fiscal year. This could be for one publication, or for multiple publications that add up to $3,000. See the other requirements section for more details on reimbursement limits.


Are formats other than journal articles eligible?

The quick answer is maybe. We recognize and encourage the development of OA research publications in a wide variety of formats beyond the traditional journal article. Currently, we are primarily supporting reimbursements for journal articles but will consider other formats on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us.


How do I apply?

Please use the electronic application form to apply.


Who do I contact if I have questions or want some help?

We welcome any questions and are happy to assist you with any part of the process. Please use the contact section to find out how to get in touch with us.


I already paid fees to a journal. Am I eligible to be reimbursed?

Yes, we will retroactively reimburse fees already paid if they fall within the past calendar year, based on the date of application to the Fund. All other Fund requirements, eligibility criteria, and processes still apply.


Do other universities offer this kind of fund?

Many universities in Canada and around the world also offer an open access fund in support of their local researchers. For examples, please see the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) curated list showing OA funds in action.


How do I budget for OA fees or article processing charges (APCs) in my grant proposals?

Since many funding agencies treat open access fees as allowable grant expenses (including CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC) we recommend budgeting publication charges as part of your grant proposal. To estimate these costs, try reviewing the websites of appropriate journals/publishers where you hope to publish your research. Your subject librarian can help you with this.


Eligibility Requirements

Criteria for Applicants

The Fund will only accept applications from the primary author (e.g., lead, first-named, or corresponding), who will take responsibility for submitting the grant request and receiving reimbursement. This author must be affiliated with MRU as a:

  • Tenured, tenurable, or contract faculty member
  • Full-time administrator or staff member
  • Undergraduate student

Your co-authors do not have to be affiliated with MRU.

In the event that your project has existing research funding, the request must be accompanied by a declaration that the open access APCs have not already been covered by the grant or are ineligible under the grant.

Criteria for the Publication

The Fund will reimburse article open access (OA) processing charges (APCs) for article manuscripts accepted to be published in peer-reviewed journals. The journal must:

  • Use a full open access publishing model
  • Be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • Make their OA fees publicly available on their website
  • Make the open access version immediately available upon publication

Other Requirements

Reimbursement Limits

To help the fund reach a broad audience and to ensure timely processing:

  • Reimbursement grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Total reimbursement is normally capped at $3,000 (CDN) per individual per fiscal year
    • There is no limit on the number of applications, the maximum is $3,000 total

To qualify for reimbursement the applicant must submit a paid invoice/receipt. The Library will reimburse accepted applicants in a timely manner using established internal processes.

Mandatory Deposit in the IR

Authors who accept their awarded grant under this fund must deposit a version of their research in the Mount Royal University Institutional Repository. Authors are also encouraged to consider depositing appropriate supporting data in the Mount Royal University Institutional Repository. The Library is prepared to assist with this process. In the case of publisher embargo, the manuscript should still be deposited as soon as possible with the appropriate repository embargo provisions in place.

Applications closed

After another successful year the funds reserved for the Library's Open Access Fund have been fully spent, and we are no longer accepting applications at this time. We hope to offer the Fund again in the new fiscal year starting in mid-April 2024, so check back then.

To date the Library OA fund has supported more than 20 publications by MRU authors. You can view them all in our repository at the following link.