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Academic Publishing

Why Open Access?

Our current system for communicating research is crippled by a centuries old model that hasn’t been updated to take advantage of 21st century technology:

  1. Governments provide most of the funding for research—hundreds of billions of dollars annually—and public institutions employ a large portion of all researchers.
  2. Researchers publish their findings without the expectation of compensation. Unlike other authors, they hand their work over to publishers without payment, in the interest of advancing human knowledge.
  3. Through the process of peer review, researchers review each other’s work for free.
  4. Once published, those that contributed to the research (from taxpayers to the institutions that supported the research itself) have to pay again to access the findings. Though research is produced as a public good, it isn’t available to the public who paid for it.


Types of Open Access

Green OA publishing refers to the self-archiving of published or pre-publication works for free public use. Authors provide access to preprints or post-prints (with publisher permission) in an institutional or disciplinary archive such as eCommons@Cornell and

 Gold OA publishing refers to works published in an open access journal and accessed via the journal or publisher's website. Examples of Gold OA include PLOS (Public Library of Science) and BioMed Central. Hybrid journals offer authors the option of making their articles open access, for a fee. Hybrid journals are still fundamentally subscription journals with an open access option for individual articles. They are not true open access journals, despite publishers' use of the term "gold open access" to describe this arrangement.

How Open Is It?

Created by SPARC in conjunction with PLOS and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), the HowOpenIsIt? Open Access Guide standardizes Open Access terminology in an easily understandable, comprehensive resource.

Selecting an OA Publisher

Before deciding to publish in a new OA journal, consider the following:

  • Whether the journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. Journals indexed in DOAJ after March 2014 (noted with a green check mark or "DOAJ Seal"), underwent a more stringent review process than journals indexed prior to that date.
  • Whether the journal is indexed in an established and reputable database such as Web of Knowledge, Ulrich's, or others that you may use in your own research.
  • Examine the journal's website for such information as affiliation with a university or professional organization, editorial board credentials, or acceptance rates. If you have doubts, contact members of the editorial board or article authors.
  • Publishing fees and copyright ownership should be clearly indicated.
  • Whether the publisher is a member of a reputable industry organization such as Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association or the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
  • ThinkCheckSubmit, produced with the support of a coalition from across scholarly communications in response to discussions about deceptive publishing, walks you through the process of evaluating journals.

Adapted from Paul Blobaum's Checklist for Review of Journal Quality, Governor's State University

Open Access Journals

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
This is a searchable directory of open access journals across all disciplines.

International Association for Media and Communication Research OA journal list
This website lists open access journals in the field of media and communications research.

An off-shoot of PLoS, PeerJ is a new open access journal in the biological and medical sciences. PeerJ operates under a unique publishing fee model, which includes lifetime membership options.

Elsevier's OA Journals
Elsevier publishes many journals and scholarly works in various disciplines. This site provides a list of this publisher's open access journals.

This is a list of open access journals published by Springer covering numerous disciplines and subject areas.

Taylor & Francis OA Journals
Taylor & Francis publishes many journals and scholarly works in various disciplines. This site provides a list of this publisher's open access journals.

Wiley Open Access
Wiley publishes many journals and scholarly works in various disciplines. This site provides a list of this publisher's open access journals.

Royal Society Open Science and Open Biology
Two of the Royal Society's journals are fully open access.

Open Humanities Press
An "international, scholar-led open access publishing collective whose mission is to make leading works of contemporary critical thought available worldwide." The OHP network includes several openly accessible book series published by MPublishing at the University of Michigan, as well as a selective list of autonomously-produced open access journals in critical and cultural theory.

Knowledge Unlatched
Knowledge Unlatched works with libraries and academic publishers to make selected books openly accessible. The model depends on libraries contributing to cover a publisher's costs on a book; when the cost-recovery goal is met, the book becomes open access. Knowledge Unlatched encourages authors to discuss this option with their publishers.

MediaCommons Press
An "in-development feature of MediaCommons promoting the digital publication of texts in the field of media studies, ranging from article- to monograph-length.”

Open Library of Humanities
A high-profile initiative to establish a non-profit open access publisher for the humanities and social sciences.

Open Access Explained

Learn why "open access" is a researcher's issue.

Published on Oct 25, 2012 on YouTube.

"What is open access? Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen take us through the world of open access publishing and explain just what it's all about. Make sure to watch it in HD and Fullscreen!"
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