12 April 2016

What you need to know about publishing in an open access journal

You’ve identified a couple of journals that might be suitable for submitting your journal article. One of them is an open access journal. Should this be the journal you choose? ... by Katrina Tepper, the Library's Science faculty team leader.

What are open access journals?

Articles published in open access journals are made freely available on the journal website. No passwords or payment are required, allowing anyone around the world to access and read the articles.

This is in contrast to subscription journals, in which articles can only be accessed by those with a subscription (either individual or via a library), although some journals make articles freely available one year or more after publication.

Quality scholarly journals generally have a peer review process in place, regardless of whether they are subscription or open access journals.

Are there any advantages to publishing in an open access journal?

One of the main advantages is that anyone around the world can access and read your article, potentially exposing your article to a larger audience than if it was published in a subscription journal.

In turn, there is some evidence this might lead to your article being cited more often. See The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact.

That sounds great! Are there any catches?

While not a catch exactly, be aware that some open access journals charge authors a fee to publish their article if it’s accepted. This can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for a single article. You can usually find this information on the journal website.
 Beall's List  provides information like
this about questionable publishers

Also, while there are many high quality open access journals, there are some fairly questionable open access publishers appearing on the scene (see Beall’s list). These journals charge fees to publish articles and make them freely available, however don’t have rigorous peer review or editing processes in place, so should be avoided.

The Directory of Open Access Journals lists high quality, peer reviewed, open access journals. Check this directory to confirm if the journal you’re interested is on this list.

The journal website says I need to make the associated research data available too. Any tips?

This is becoming more common, particularly with journals in the science, technology, engineering and medicine fields. There might be a discipline specific repository that’s suitable for making your data available, however another option is Monash figshare. Some of the benefits include that you can upload data yourself and the data is stored on Monash servers. For more information see What is Monash.figshare?

So, is it better to publish in an open access journal or a subscription journal?

Choose the best journal for your research, regardless of whether it’s an open access or subscription journal. The scope of the journal and the audience are key things to consider, to make sure your research and journal articles reach the best audience for your work.

Want more information?

Refer to the Research impact and publishing library guide or get in touch with your contact librarian.

Image CC h_pampel,2009

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