Editorial and Publishing Policy Resource
Open access

Open access

In this section: 


On 1 February 2013, open-access options were introduced for the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR). The green open access policy was updated on 21st September 2016. Authors can choose one of two options for publishing their articles:

  • Gold open access: immediate open access upon payment of an article publication charge fee. 
  • Green open access: publication via the ‘standard’ model, with free access to the full article 12 months after publication (Cochrane Reviews) or upon publication (protocols for Cochrane Reviews).

Gold open access

Via our publisher's open access service, Online Open, authors and their funders have the option to fund individual articles, or groups of articles, to enable them to be published on an open access basis immediately, using a Creative Commons licence.

How and at what stage in the article's development do I pay for immediate open access?

Contact your Managing Editor to discuss open access as early as possible and before the authors sign the licence for publication form. (Further information for Managing Editors.)

Article publication charge (APC)

The APC will depend on the status of the Cochrane Review; see Table 1.

Table 1. Article publication charge (APC)

Cochrane Review status APC in US dollars
Cochrane Review or Update $5000
Cochrane Review if APC paid for Protocol $2500
Cochrane Review Update if APC paid for Cochrane Review $2500
Protocol $2500

The version of the article that will be open access immediately is the new citation version, as identified by the unique digital object identifier (DOI). If gold open access is purchased for an update, the previous versions of the review will be free to view as per green open access. Only the gold open access version will receive the benefits of gold open access; it will be free to access immediately upon publication and will be licenced via a Creative Commons licence (see Table 2).

Licence for publication

Authors paying an APC for gold open access will sign a licence for publication form that reflects the open access nature of the article (see Licence for publication: open access). Authors retain copyright and grant The Cochrane Collaboration an exclusive licence to publish the article (as usual), and can choose either a CC BY-NC or CC BY-NC-ND licence, which defines the terms of use (see Table 2). If authors are funded by RCUK or Wellcome Trust a CC BY licence is available on request.

Table 2. Description of gold open access licences

Type of licence Description
(Attribution, non-commercial)
“This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.”
(Attribution, non-commercial,
no derivatives )
“This license [allows] others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.”

Source: creativecommons.org/licenses/ (accessed 12 March 2012).

Archiving in repositories

Gold open access articles will be deposited automatically in PubMedCentral and in other repositories, as determined by funder mandates, on behalf of the authors. Authors retain the right to deposit the article in other repositories of their choice or as required by their funder (see Including Cochrane Reviews and Protocols in Scholarly Collaboration Networks and Repositories for further information). A PDF of the final version, as specified by the Publisher, will be deposited.

Waivers and discounts

An author from a HINARI A or B country (www.who.int/hinari/eligibility/en/) who is the first author of a Cochrane Review, Protocol, or Update is eligible for a waiver for the APC, provided funding for the Cochrane Review does not include funds for the APC. Qualifying authors should contact their Managing Editor before signing the licence for publication form. (Further information for Managing Editors.)

Funders should contact Deborah Pentesco-Gilbert (dpentesc@wiley.com) to discuss discounts, such as the block purchase of APCs.

Green open access

From 21 September 2016: Cochrane Reviews* (including updates) published in the CDSR will be made free to access in the CDSR 12 months after publication. Cochrane Reviews (including updates) will also be deposited automatically in PubMedCentral, where they will become available 12 months after publication.

Protocols* for Cochrane Reviews published from 27 February 2016 are free to access immediately upon publication via the CDSR

From 1 February 2013 to 21 September 2016: Cochrane Protocols and Reviews* (including updates) published in the CDSR, with the exception of gold open access articles (see above), will be free to access in the CDSR 12 months after publication. This will happen automatically and there is no charge for this.

*Note: This applies only to those versions published with a new citation on or after the given date.

Licence for publication form

Authors continue to retain copyright and other rights, such as archiving in certain repositories and Scholarly Collaboration Networks (SCNs), as stated in the licence for publication form, in return for granting The Cochrane Collaboration an exclusive licence for publication.

How will open access articles appear in the CDSR?

Articles with gold open access are identified in the CDSR with a logo Gold open access logo  and through text describing the selected copyright licence.

Articles with green open access are identified by a logo  Green open access logo.

What if my funder mandates different criteria for open access than those outlined above?

Wiley will respect funder mandates and implement the requirements. Contact Deborah Pentesco-Gilbert, Publisher of the Cochrane Library (dpentesc@wiley.com) for queries.

Authors funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and The Wellcome Trust should note that both funders have new open access policies effective from 1 April 2013. These policies state that to be compliant, journals must offer a “pay to publish” (gold OA) option. When an article publication charge is paid the policies also mandate the use of the CC-BY license. The CC-BY license allows others to modify, build upon and/or distribute the licensed work (including for commercial purposes) as long as the original author is credited.

A promotional video about the UK funder mandates and Wiley’s compliance is available.

How do Cochrane Reviews published in the CDSR fit on the ‘How open is it’ scale?

The Public Library of Science (PLOS), The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) developed the “How open is it?” guide, which shows the spectrum between open access and closed access; see www.plos.org/about/open-access/howopenisit/. The figure below shows where Cochrane Reviews fit onto this open-access spectrum for gold* and green open access (updated March 2016). The categorization is the same for Cochrane protocols, except that from February 2016, protocols are free to view upon publication as part of the green open access policy (see above).

Machine readability is one of the core components included in the guide. Contact Deborah Pentesco-Gilbert (dpentesc@wiley.com)), Publisher of the Cochrane Library, to discuss permission to crawl or access the article full-text, metadata, and citations, and the use of an API for this purpose.

*Note: The gold open access categorizations would change if published with a CC BY licence.

Figure 1. How open is it? Gold and green access in the CDSR

How open is it? Cochrane Reviews published in the CDSR

Section info
Bryony Urquhart (burquhart@cochrane.org)
Describe change
Link to Research Councils UK open access policy updated.
Change date
18 September 2017