Open Access Week 2022 – Preparing for the Future

A circular neon sign that reads "open".

International Open Access Week is a yearly global event organized by SPARC and the OA Week Advisory Committee. The event “is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.” This year’s theme is Open for Climate Justice and we’ll be sharing open climate related datasets on our Twitter account @UWMadRschSvcs

Every year we participate to raise awareness locally here at UW-Madison. The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy along with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are stressing the importance of open access to publications and data being a way to increase public trust in research, increasing equity in access to research, and maximizing the contributions of research participants. We’ve also seen over the last few years how critical open access is to research in order to speed discovery for health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharing publications and research data openly is also a great way to maximize the investment taxpayers and funding agencies put into research while also maximizing the value of unique datasets and important findings.

To get started with open access, it’s helpful to clarify some key concepts that can sometimes be conflated.

Open Access vs Public access vs Public Domain 

  • Open Access (OA) & Open Data:
    • Open access publications are freely available online and often carry less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works.
    • Open research data is available and accessible to others, preferably through a trusted repository, for re-use and for free. Data must be licensed and at most can require attribution or share-alike. Data should be in an open, sustainable format, structured for machine readability, and accompanied by complete metadata.
  • Public access: 
    • Many agencies require that published research results funded by their grants be made available to the general public, usually online. Public access refers specifically to these funder mandates that require public access to research findings. These funder requirements also typically include additional requirements such as the expectation that the article and data be deposited and shared from a particular repository or platform.
  • Public domain: 
    • Some works that might qualify for copyright protection are instead part of the public domain. The public has the full rights to use these works without obtaining permission and no one can come to control those rights in the future. Probably the most common category of public domain works is those for which copyright has expired. Identifying these works is complicated by the fact that the term of copyright has varied over time and for different types of work. One guideline is that most works published in the U.S. before 1926 will be part of the public domain.


Copyright vs license

  • Under U.S. copyright law, authors and creators (with some exceptions) get exclusive rights to use their works including by reproducing, distributing and sharing it. No one else can do those things without the copyright holder’s permission.
  • A license is an example of the permission a copyright holder can give to someone else to use their work. Licenses can be part of a contract between an author and a publisher that gives the publisher the rights to copy and distribute a work. Copyright holders can also grant blanket licenses, such as Creative Commons licenses, that give everyone rights to do some of the things otherwise prohibited by copyright.
  • Scientific, factual data is not copyrightable in the United States (with some exceptions). General best practice is to license research data with CC0 or CC-BY licenses.


Data sharing vs data publication vs archiving data

  • Data sharing is a broad umbrella term for the scholarly sharing of data between researchers whether that is collaborative sharing between researchers within a research project or colleagues around the world.
  • Data sharing is also increasingly being used to refer to sharing data openly or publicly. This is sometimes also referred to as data publishing, data archiving, or depositing your data in a repository. 
  • Depositing your data into a trusted repository often encompasses all of these activities and terms. A trusted data repository will commit to archiving your data for a minimum number of years while making it publicly available (sharing it) and then provide DOIs so that your data is citable when reused (like any other scholarly output, citing data you’ve used is a best practice).


Making your work open 

Publications: Publications may be made available open access either in their final form as distributed by the publisher, often called “gold” open access or in their peer reviewed manuscript form shared by the author in a repository, often called “green” open access. In order to make the publisher version of the article immediately open, authors, institutions, or research funders often (but not always) have to pay a fee, or article processing charge (APC) to the publisher.

If you want to ensure your work is as easily discovered and accessed as possible, you may be able to arrange for your publisher to make it immediately openly available on their platform. Sometimes this involves arranging for payment of a fee, some publishers or journals are set up to make all their articles open without any additional payment. Increasingly, research funders and institutions are exploring arrangements with publishers to cover some or all of the fees. The libraries currently have agreements with several publishers that could subsidize or pay for open publishing for UW-Madison affiliated authors.

If making the publisher version of your work immediately available on their platform isn’t an option, you can still often make the peer reviewed author manuscript version available online. The publisher may restrict where or how soon that version of the article can be made available. For help understanding or navigating copyright transfer or license agreements with publishers, contact the libraries’ open access and authors’ rights support service.

Data: Ensure your data is in a sustainable, open format when possible. It is also best that your data is structured for machine readability over human readability. Apply a license to your data, preferably the least restrictive one. To truly conform to the definition of open data, at most the license can require attribution and share-alike (e.g. CC-BY or CC-BY-SA). Deposit it in a repository to make it accessible, findable, and available for reuse. 

Resources for UW-Madison Researchers


ORCID is a global, not-for-profit entity which offers researchers in any discipline a free unique digital persistent identifier known as an ORCID iD. This unique ID follows a researcher for their entire career at any institution/organization and helps distinguish them from other scholars with similar names (regardless of name variants). It also provides researchers with a means of linking to and sharing their research objects with others, including journal articles, data sets, multimedia projects, and patents.  

ORCID is one of the most widely-used researcher IDs and integrates with other research profile systems, funders, publishers, and institutions. ORCID iDs are increasingly being required by funders and publishers as a way to streamline workflows. The U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently released a memo setting out an expectation that in coming years federally funded researchers will be expected to have some form of unique digital persistent identifier. 


With UW-Madison’s membership with Dryad, you can deposit your data for free in the Dryad data repository. Dryad is a trusted generalist repository – meaning any discipline may deposit data. Dryad has a number of benefits including some minimal curation, integration with some publishers, the ability to submit scripts/software that get pushed to Zenodo, a partner repository that specializes in that work, and more! Check out our page about it here: <link> You can also log in with your ORCID ID and associate your account with your NetID to get started with your deposit right away!


The information presented here is intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions pertaining to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, please contact Office of Legal Affairs.

If you require legal advice in your personal capacity, you can contact the State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer Referral and Information Service at  608-257-4666 or 608-257-3838.