‘Open Access’

Resource Person: Elisa Mason

Elisa Mason is an information specialist currently undertaking independent research projects in the field of refugee and forced migration studies. She has worked with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Forced Migration Online (FMO) project at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre (RSC). Elisa has also written and published a number of articles on refugee and forced migration issues. She maintains a blog at


Open access literature is defined as “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions” (Suber 2008). The particular target of the open access movement is the peer-reviewed research reported in scholarly journals. Because of subscription costs and copyright constraints, many SRLAN members may be blocked from getting at the knowledge and information disseminated in these publications.

The solution? Open access journals and open access archives/repositories – two types of mechanisms that were developed to overcome these restrictions and to make it easier to access research literature. Use the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) to locate titles of the former and search their contents. Use the openDOAR directory to search the latter.

For more information about open access generally, read Peter Suber’s “A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access” (available in multiple languages). Another great resource is the Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook (OASIS), which covers the “concept, principles, advantages, approaches and means to achieving” open access.


Refworld is the leading source of information necessary for taking quality decisions on refugee status. Refworld contains a vast collection of reports relating to situations in countries of origin, policy documents and positions, and documents relating to international and national legal frameworks. The information has been carefully selected and compiled from UNHCR’s global network of field offices, Governments, international, regional and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and judicial bodies.

Thematic Compilation of UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusions

This, page on RefWorld, groups by subject the conclusions of the UNHCR Executive Committee and includes all conclusions up to decision 108 of October 2008. For current ExCom documents, see the UNHCR site.

European Migration Network 

Asylum and Migration Glossary 3.0 (European Migration Network, Oct. 2014)  – Updated edition; online interactive version also available.

The Forced Migration Current Awareness Blog

The Forced Migration Current Awareness Blog was launched in 2005. This free information service was established to assist users with the following:

  1. keep up with new publications, journal and newsletter issues, events and opportunities for professional development and learning, web sites, and other relevant online resources;
  2. track new research and publication;
  3. learn about online tools that can facilitate the search and retrieval of relevant information resources.

The service seeks out new information sources as well as regularly monitoring standard ones.  As a result, it saves users’ much time and effort in the information-gathering process.  It also expands the knowledge base for those researchers who may not have ready access to library collections or who may not be familiar with the full range of information resources available to them. The service aims to circulate at least one information alert on a daily weekday basis. On average, 26 messages are posted per month. Interested readers can monitor blog postings two ways, through RSS feed and Email alerts.

The Current Awareness Blog also maintains a great list of new and upcoming book titles in the refugee field. Take a look here.

The Forced Migration Online (FMO) Digital Library

Make your documents available for everyone!

The Forced Migration Online (FMO) Digital Library (has gone offline and has been archived) is a key dissemination resource of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. It is the largest collection of its kind on this subject area in the world and contains published and unpublished documents, photographs, documentary films, podcasts of lectures, a directory of organisations and a discussion list which welcomes questions and announcements relating to forced migration and refugee law. This digital library was established so that this important part of the University of Oxford’s library could be accessible to the world.

The Rights in Exile Programme website is using the FMO Digital Library as its main repository for storing documents useful to legal aid providers. We encourage you to submit documents you wish to make available to others, including annual reports and other documents that are currently only available on your website. They will also be available for others to use – including researchers. Instructions on how to submit documents appear below. When you submit a document, you can make its availability known by posting it on the list-serv.

The FMO Digital Library contains over 4,700 documents and journal issues, which can be searched, read online and printed as required. Journals available include back issues of the International Journal of Refugee Law. Repositories can searched via 

We welcome document submissions for the FMO Digital Library. Send your document, stating that you own the copyright, via e-mail attachments (Microsoft Word and PDF only) to or by mail to:

Forced Migration Online
Queen Elizabeth House
3 Mansfield Road 
Oxford, UK

The Guide to International Refugee Law Resources

The Guide to International Refugee Law Resources includes an introduction to global refugee law and a library of relevant resources and online publications. 


HURIDOCS have launched a new, Open Source version of HuriSearch, its specialised search engine for human rights information. HuriSearch is a very useful resource for human rights researchers and advocates, academic staff and students, journalists, diplomats and staff of international organisations. HuriSearch searches the content of over 5000 human rights websites, with a total of almost 7 million pages. This content is always fresh, because HuriSearch indexes the content of these websites very frequently. Search results are based upon relevance of contents rather than website popularity – which makes the pages from smaller organisations more visible than on other search engines.

UNHCR International Thesaurus of Refugee Terminology

The International Thesaurus of Refugee Terminology (ITRT) is designed to facilitate information retrieval and exchange. In print since 1988, the Thesaurus has proven an essential resource for librarians and information workers. However, the specialized nature of and ongoing evolution in refugee terminology meant that the print editions were soon outdated. In 2002, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Library and Forced Migration Online (FMO) began discussing how to create a web-based version of the Thesaurus that would be more responsive to the needs of its users.

The Thesaurus is now available as an interactive and searchable tool online, in English, French and Spanish. The editors hope that this new version will serve as a more efficient medium for identifying relevant indexing terminology and as a value-added mechanism for managing refugee- and forced migration-related information.

International Organization for Migration Online Bookstore Glossary on Migration

The IOM publishes a Glossary on Migration, which is now in its second edition. This glossary summarises terms used in international migration law, allowing for variations in terminology.

Handbook on Migration Terminology: Russian-English / СПРАВОЧНИК ПО ТЕРМИНОЛОГИИ В ОБЛАСТИ МИГРАЦИИ: русско-английский

The Russian Federation presently ranks amongst the highest in the world on migration flows volume. Therefore, effective migration management is the task of top priority for Russia, which can be facilitated only by means of developing partnership and coordination with other countries. In turn high-grade international cooperation in the field of migration calls for common understanding of basic migration terms and concepts by all the parties.

The present Handbook on Migration Terminology (based on the International Migration Law N°1 – Glossary on Migration (Geneva, 2004) and International Migration Law N°2 – Glossary on Migration (Russian) (Geneva, 2005)) has been specially developed to achieve this practical goal. This Handbook, in contrast to the previous editions, incorporates simultaneously both English and Russian versions.