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Copyright and Scholarship


Open Access

Copyright and scholarly communication information for the Boston College community.

What is Open Access?

Boston College Libraries strongly support the principle of open access to scholarly literature. The Libraries are a signatory of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI). The latter defines "open access" as follows:

By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

In addition to benefiting consumers of scholarly information, open access also benefits scholars, increasing the visibility, influence, and potential benefit of their research. It helps redress global inequity of access to scholarship by dismantling cost barriers to research dissemination. And it returns research results more swiftly and readily to the public, who provide much of the funding for scholarly work.

For more information about Open Access and to learn what BC is doing, see our Open Access and Scholarly Publishing guide.

Peter Suber on Open Access

Peter Suber's explanations of open access are both concise and insightful:  Open Access Overview; and A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access. Particularly apt is his observation (from Open Access Overview) that

"OA is compatible with copyright, peer review, revenue (even profit), print, preservation, prestige, career-advancement, indexing, and other features and supportive services associated with conventional scholarly literature. ... The primary difference is that the bills are not paid by readers and hence do not function as access barriers."

To read more views, announcements etc. of Peter Suber and others consult the Open Access Tracking Project (OATP).

OA Trends on Campus

Many studies show a citation advantage for open access articles. A full bibliography on the topic is available from OpCit.

Examples of common Open Access (OA) practices on college campuses include

  • faculty refereed OA journals
  • OA electronic theses and dissertations
  • digital repositories highlighting faculty and student scholarship.
In fact, faculty at some institutions have voted to mandate that their scholarly articles be OA through their digital repositories, Harvard, and MIT being among the most prominent.

Selected Open Access Initiatives


BC Authors are Urged to Deposit in eScholarship@BC.

The eScholarship@BC Digital Repository is a central online system maintained by the Boston College University Libraries. Our goal is to showcase and preserve Boston College's scholarly output and to maximize research visibility and influence. eScholarship@BC encourages community contributors to archive and disseminate scholarly work, peer-reviewed publications, books, chapters, conference proceedings, and small data sets in an online open access environment.

Many publishers' policies allow self-archiving of work in a repository such as eScholarship. Faculty, students, staff are encouraged to increase the visibility of their work by retaining rights that allow open archiving of the scholarly materials they author. See Author Rights.

For help with submission of materials or for questions about journal copyright policies, contact your Subject Librarian or

Sponsored eJournals

Part of the Libraries' efforts to promote open access to scholarship on campus has been its provision of software and technical support to BC created electronic journals. Learn more about our publishing program and see our current list of journals.

BC Theses & Dissertations

BC Libraries have introduced an online system for submitting theses and dissertations: eTD@BC. Part of the graduate students' submission process involves an optional step of granting Boston College permission to publish their dissertations and theses on BC’s institutional repository, eScholarship@BC, so that anyone with internet access will be able to find and download their scholarly work for free.

Students who deposit their work in eScholarship@BC can take the additional step of defining others' reuse rights by applying a Creative Commons license to their work.

Use of the Guide

This guide is designed to provide basic, general information about copyright, and does not constitute legal advice. The links to third party sites in this guide are provided for your convenience. Boston College does not take responsibility for the content of these other sites. If you have a question about a specific copyright issue not addressed by this guide, the Libraries encourage you to seek further advice.

If you have questions about this guide or a basic copyright issue, contact, or the subject liaison for your department.

If you have a question about the University’s policies regarding copyright, please contact the Office of Technology Transfer and Licensing at 2-1682. If you have a question that requires the advice of an attorney, please contact the Office of the General Counsel at 2-0960.