Open Access publishing

Open Access (OA) is the immediate, online, free availability of research outputs. There are several ways to publish in Open Access. You can:

Open Access journals provide direct open access upon publication. Open access publications run through the same peer review, production and publishing processes similar to journals and books published under the traditional subscription-based model do.

How does it work

Open Access publishing means that the costs that come with the publishing process are no longer funded by charging subscriptions to the end users (= the reader or the reader’s institution/library), but are being funded in other ways. Currently, the best known business model is the one where publishers ask Article Processing Charges – where authors pay a fixed fee to cover the editorial costs publishers make. 

APCs can vary widely, however many Open Access journals do not charge these author fees. Other options support open access without an APC, such as Open Access self-archiving or publishing in an Open Access Journal with an alternative business model. For European funded project the European Research Platform provides a free, open and transparent publishing platform.

You can find an overview of peer reviewed Open Access journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Quality check

Internet and open source software such as Open Journal Systems have made online publishing relatively easy, which also means that it is sometimes difficult for authors to identify decent Open Access publishers. In combination with the APC-charging model, the immense proliferation of Open Access publishers has unfortunately also created opportunities for ‘predatory publishers’, OA publishers that are only interested in the article processing charges and don’t offer quality peer review.

If you are in doubt about the quality of the journal you want to publish in, there are several resources on the web to help you along.

  • Is the journal featured on DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)?
  • Is the publisher a member of OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association)?
Schematic overview of different routes to Open Access for publications.

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