Re-use of content from open access journals

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 09 Sep 2017

Re-use of content from open access journals is becoming more common, with a growing number allowing their published content to be modified and distributed by others so long as the original authors and source are appropriately cited. For example, the PLOS journals allow for content reuse under a CC BY 3.0 Creative Commons license.  

While the use of plagiarised content is universally unacceptable on, the re-use of content from open access publications is permissible so long as:

  1. The content cannot otherwise be easily sourced via original user contributions to the site.
  2. The content serves a clear educational purpose and assists in the dissemination of knowledge.
  3. The original author and source are appropriately cited, and the use on adheres to the terms of the original Creative Commons license applicable to the content. A link to the applicable Creative Commons license page should be given. 
  4. Any modification to the content is described. 

Contributors to should be aware that the majority of scientific journals are NOT open access and re-use of their content would constitute plagiarism and copyright violation. Contributors should think carefully before directly re-using content from any publication and contact [email protected] for clarification if required.  


The following articles and cases are examples of appropriate re-use of open access journal content:

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