Open access means: "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions" (Suber, 2012).
Open access can mean increased citation counts, improved retention of author rights so you can use your publications as you wish in the future, and better access to information for researchers at other institutions and in other parts of the world.
Wondering about "predatory" publishers? See our page answering Frequently Asked Questions about open access publishers and journals. Also see the section below on "Which Open Access Journals Are Reputable?"
Just as there is a wide range of quality among subscription-based journals, the quality of open access (OA) journals varies widely, too.
Journals and publishers that meet important publishing guidelines and industry standards established by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) can be found in several organizations' membership lists and/or directories:
Also check NASP’s Journals Online platforms (for journals published in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Central America and Mongolia) or on African Journals Online (AJOL, for African journals) to find reputable journals.
Check these membership lists before submitting a manuscript to a journal for review. Check them before accepting an offer to serve as an editor or reviewer, too.
Sharing your research openly can be achieved in two ways.
Publish in an Open Access journal that follows the COPE publishing guidelines (see below). This is sometimes called "Gold OA".
Submit a version of your work to an open repository (sometimes referred to as "Green OA"):
Find out how to work with publishers to retain your rights by using the "Publishing Agreements" page of this toolkit/guide.
Some publishers ask for fees, or article processing charges (APCs), to make your publication openly accessible. Is this okay?
Other considerations: How committed is the publisher to Open Access? Is OA their main publishing model, or one of several? And, what do they do with their revenue?
Check "Which open access journals are reputable?" above for more information.
"Open access is made possible by the Internet and copyright-holder consent, and many authors, musicians, filmmakers, and other creators who depend on royalties are understandably unwilling to give their consent.
"But for 350 years, scholars have written peer-reviewed journal articles for impact, not for money, and are free to consent to open access without losing revenue."
Suber is Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project, Faculty Fellow at the Berkman Center, and Research Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College.