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What is Open Access?
"Open access" is a publishing model that began in response to exorbitantly priced subscriptions. The publishers are often Universities or Academic Societies.
The published articles in an open access journal do go through a scholarly process prior to publication.
The journals are free, unrestricted, web based access to scholarly research. There are two primary vehicles for providing open access: open access journals, and open access archives or repositories.
The Open Access movement began in the sciences but recently has moved into the humanities. See below for links to Open Access portals.
Library of Congress
Wealth of digital collections, photos, presidential papers, and congressional research.
Evaluation Tool for Open Access Journal Articles
The following rubric, linked below, is posted to the Loyola Digital Commons. The tool takes users through a thoughtful review of the Open Access source they are considering. The tool is helpful for students who are using Open Access sources for their research, or faculty considering an Open Source publisher.
Rele, Shilpa; Kennedy, Marie; and Blas, Nataly, "Journal Evaluation Tool" (2017). LMU Librarian Publications & Presentations. 40. http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/librarian_pubs/4
Open but Not Open Access
Google Scholar is a search engine that retrieves full-text articles made freely available by the publisher, as well as professional societies, preprint repositories and scholarly articles posted on the web.
There are disciplines that, to some degree, use Wikipedia, e.g. Computer Science. However, overall it is not as credible as other sources because anyone can register to edit the site. It can be marginally helpful at the start of a research project, to point you in a helpful direction; everything needs to be verified later in your research. If you believe you need to use Wikipedia for your research project it should be in consultation with your instructor.