How to Make Your Work Open

Making your work openly available has a number of benefits, including:

You can make your work open by publishing openly, or by sharing your work in open digital platforms. This guide walks you through your options, based on the type of publication you’d like to make openly available.

Because of the subject matter of your work or the communities you work with–particularly if you work with indigenous knowledge, making your work openly available may engender ethical and security concerns. For further reading on this subject, see “Does Information Really Want to be Free?”

Questions? Contact

Publishing in the open

A key way to make your work open is to publish in an open access journal, often known as gold open access. Find open access journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals, or by consulting one of the journal lists in our guide “How to Choose Where to Publish” and filtering your search results by “open access.”

Some open access journals charge fees for publishing articles, known as article processing charges (APCs), which fund these journals. Subscription-based journals may offer a paid open access option, meaning that authors can pay APCs to make their articles open access immediately; these are known as hybrid journals.

BU does not have an institutional fund for paying APCs, but some journals may offer discounts on APCs for society memberships or institutional subscriptions. Contact to confirm details about subscriptions.

How and where to share your work openly

Besides publishing your work in open access journals, you can look for other venues where you can share your work openly, such as OA repositories, often known as green open access.

A repository is a digital collection of online works, often institution- or subject-based. Repositories offer a number of benefits to authors, including:

  • improving the visibility of works through standardized metadata, full-text search, and indexing in Google Scholar
  • preserving works long-term
  • providing authors with tools to understand how their works are being accessed, such as download statistics

Boston University has an institutional repository, OpenBU, which provides long-term access and preservation of scholarship to anyone in the BU community. For more information about putting your work in OpenBU, see our OpenBU overview.

Subject repositories collect works from specific disciplines. You can find lists of OA subject repositories on OpenDOAR, the Directory of OA Repositories, or ROAR, the Registry of OA Repositories. Both sites allow you to search for repositories by subject area, content type, or repository type. The Harvard Open Access Project also has a list of disciplinary repositories.

If you can’t find a subject repository for your field, you can also look for a universal repository, such as Zenodo, Figshare, or GitHub. You could post your work to a personal web site or academic social networking site (such as or ResearchGate), but nonprofit OA repositories are a better choice because they preserve your work long term, provide persistent URLs, and are indexed by Google Scholar.

How and where you can share your work will depend on:

  • Whether it has been published
  • What rights you retained (or the publisher allowed you to retain) to your work after signing a publishing agreement
  • Whether your work falls under institutional or funder open access policies

The list below provides a guide to sharing your work, by type of publication.

Other Resources

Understanding Open Access, guide by the Authors Alliance

Some content in this guide was adapted from How to make your own work open access, Harvard Open Access License, CC-BY.

Creative Commons License
How to Make Your Work Open” by the BU Libraries Digital Scholarship Services is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.