Open access (OA) journals perform peer review and then make the approved contents freely available to the world. Their expenses consist of peer review, manuscript preparation, and server space.
"Open" refers to journals being online, free of charge to read and access, and licensed so that others can share and use the work free of charge, too. Attribution to authors is always expected; in fact, open licenses require attribution of a work to the original authors.
OA journals pay their bills very much the way broadcast television and radio stations do: those with an interest in disseminating the content pay the production costs upfront so that access can be free of charge for everyone with the right equipment.
OA journals that charge processing fees usually waive them in cases of economic hardship. OA journals with institutional subsidies tend to charge no processing fees.
Ask yourself these three questions:
For additional criteria to consider before submitting work to a journal, use the Checklist from ThinkCheckSubmit.org. And, please talk to colleagues about their experiences publishing with any journal. You may want to check online forums for reviews of the publishing experience with various journals, too.
Yes, they can be. Open access journals do not have subscribers. Therefore, in order to sustain their operations, they ask authors and/or those authors’ institutions to pay an article processing charge. UT has a fund available to help authors cover these APCs. And, most funders--including the NIH, NSF, USDA, Gates Foundation, and many others--allow researchers to include APCs for open access publishing in their grant budgets. APCs are a part of the business model for many reputable OA journals.
But beware: Not all open access journals are the same. Do your due diligence and investigate the journal’s reputation (see above). Also, be aware of the varying costs of APCs across journals. APCs can range from $300 to $1,000 in the social sciences, or $700 to over $5,000 in the sciences. Several studies have estimated that costs for publishing a single scholarly article average in the range of $1,000 to $2,000 per article.
No. In several disciplines, including public health, computer science, and evolutionary ecology and biology, one or more OA journals have impact factors that place them in the list of top 10 highest journal impact factors in those disciplines. (See Journal Citation Reports to find impact factors.)
Articles in OA journals that follow industry-set standards and guidelines are peer-reviewed through processes that match industry norms. Open access has to do with who has access to the work once it is published—not the process by which the work was evaluated or reviewed.
Beall’s list was the result of one individual’s views of what makes an open access publisher “good” or “bad.” Instead, UT librarians recommend checking lists of journals and publishers that meet standards agreed to by organizations within the publishing industry. Rather than use an old version of Beall’s list to find “bad” open access journals, the University Libraries recommend checking the membership lists of the following organizations:
Additionally, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a resource for finding fully OA journals that meet COPE criteria.
For more about evaluating an open access journal, see "How do I find reputable open access journals?" above.
For more about criticism of Beall’s list, please see Shea Swauger’s 2017 piece "Open Access, Power, and Privilege: A Response to 'What I Learned from Predatory Publishing,'” published in College and Research Libraries News (https://doi.org/10.5860/crln.78.11.603).
Cabell’s “Journalytics" is an incomplete directory with useful information about many journals, including average review times, acceptance rates, and so on. Because it is an incomplete directory, it should not be used as list to check against. Their “Predatory Reports" are similarly problematic. UT Libraries subscribes to the "Journalytics" for the information it provides.
Some authors unwittingly submit good research to “deceptive,” “predatory,” or lower quality journals. That does not make the research inherently poor. As Shea Swauger states, “Just because something was published in a predatory journal doesn’t mean that it’s false or poor research. Just because something was published in a prestigious closed-access journal doesn’t mean that it’s true or excellent.”
There are many benefits:
The majority of publishers give authors the right to self-archive their article in an open access repository, provided that:
The Scholarly Communication librarian is available for consultations if you are submitting your work to TRACE for the first time.