Open access (OA) resources are digital, online, and free to use. They also often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works, offering both users and creators a level of access to their work otherwise impossible under strict paywall models, and promoting the spread of knowledge unimpeded by the current structure of scholarly publishing. An easy way to remember what OA is: "free availability and unrestricted use."
And just because they're free, that doesn't mean OA materials are not legitimate! While open access is a newer form of scholarly publishing, many OA journals do comply with well-established peer-review processes and maintain high publishing standards.
If you're interested in learning more about the details of OA, check out Peter Suber's overview of Open Access.
If you want to get a sense of the leaders in the OA community and how they show that open access can thrive within the scholarly community, check out Hathi Trust and the Directory of Open Access Journals.
Not every OA resource is an academic journal. As you explore the options in this guide, keep these content definitions in mind to help narrow your field of research.
Bib Records: These resources are often laid out as surface-layer catalogs, and offer indexing and abstracts to give researchers a helpful preview of content and directions to find the actual source.
Full-text: These resources offer the complete, readable text of books, journals, magazines, and other text-based sources.
Multimedia: All the images and audio-visual materials compiled under one heading--anything other than text!
Vocabulary: Sometimes called a thesaurus, these are structured lists containing records or specific phrases that will help you figure out which key terms to use and look for in your research.
As a member of Pratt Institute, you have access to a whole host of research databases and resources in addition to the ones listed in this guide.
For a complete alphabetized list, check out our A-Z Databases index, complete with brief summaries and links out to the resource homepages.
If you have a particular topic of research in mind, we have LibGuides sorted by subject to help you get started.