Open Access

Fundamentally, open access (OA) means free – free to read and free to reuse. OA materials are not hidden behind paywalls and can be customized and redistributed legally as long as credit is given to the copyright holder. OA works are usually licensed to grant users the following five rights:

  • Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  • Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

This material is an adaptation of Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources, which was originally written by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

Musselman Library's Commitment to Open Access

The Cupola, Gettysburg College's open access institutional repository, is the foundation of our commitment to open access and open publishing. We collect and share scholarly and creative works produced by the Gettysburg College community, including published work that would otherwise be behind a paywall (if copyrighy permissions allow). We also use The Cupola as a journal publishing platform to produce our own open access journals.

Musselman Library’s commitment to open also involves financial support for open access initiatives, an open access mandate for all publications by library employees, and sustained outreach to the campus community by the Scholarly Communications Department in partnership with their colleagues across the library. Librarians are available to help faculty understand how publishing contracts impact the open sharing of their scholarship and to help faculty understand their rights as authors.

Each October Musselman Library promotes and hosts events for Open Access Week in order to educate the campus community about the Open Access movement. Check out our most recent OA Week programming.

Open Access Policy for Library Employees

In February 2016, Musselman Library employees adopted an open access policy that ensures our fullest possible participation in an open scholarly communication system. We archive all of our professional publications and presentations openly in the Musselman Library Staff Publications series in The Cupola.

How does open access benefit academic authors?

  • Discoverability. Open publications are indexed by search engines like Google Scholar and are easily findable on the free web.
  • Visibility and citation impact. Open works reach the widest possible audience and are cited more frequently than paywalled works.
  • Author rights. Authors of open works retain their copyright and can choose to have more control over the future of their intellectual property (e.g. new editions, sharing with colleagues).
  • Grey literature. Open access repositories like The Cupola allow scholars to share their notes, drafts, data, and other valuable scholarly products ignored by traditional publishing practices.
  • Funding compliance. Public and private funders of research are increasingly requiring grant recipients to make their research and data sets publicly accessible (see U.S. research funder requirements from MIT).