Skip to Main Content

Scholarly Publishing Toolkit

Scholarly communication support for authors and researchers, with information on Open Access and evaluating publishers.

Open Access Publishing

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.


Frequently Asked Questions about Open Access Journals

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?"

Open Access: Two Roads

Sharing your research openly can be achieved in two ways.

1. Open Publishing:

Publish in an Open Access journal that follows the COPE publishing guidelines (see below). This is sometimes called "Gold OA".

2. Open Archiving:

Submit a version of your work to an open repository (sometimes referred to as "Green OA"):

  • Archive in UT's Open Repository, TRACE: Check your publication agreement for the terms related to archiving on an institutional repository. Tell your publisher you want to retain the right to deposit a copy of your work in your institution's online archive/repository.  At UT, this is Tennessee Research and Create Exchange (TRACE)
  • Archive in a Disciplinary Repository: You may want to deposit a copy of your work in a disciplinary repository, such as PhilPapers (for philosophers), RePEc (for economists), or SocArXiv (for those in the social sciences). Follow the same advice above, identifying your disciplinary repository instead of TRACE.
  • Archive a Preprint: Increasingly, researchers are adding their preprints (manuscripts before peer-review) to a preprint server, such as arXiv (physics) or biorXiv.

Find out how to work with publishers to retain your rights by using the "Publishing Agreements" page of this toolkit/guide.

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 INASP’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.

Checking the these lists is criteria #7 from the Think-Check-Submit checklist. A few minutes with this checklist before submitting work to a journal can save your research reputation!

Paying to Publish. Really?

Some publishers ask for fees, or article processing charges (APCs), to make your publication openly accessible.  Is this okay?

  • If the journal makes all of their publications available open access immediately, then there are no subscription fees.  In this case, APCs are the publisher's only revenue stream for the journal title.  In this case, charging APCs is reasonable.
  • If the journal makes only some of their publications OA, then the publisher receives revenue from both subscriptions to the journal and APCs.  In general, this is not considered a good practice by libraries, since we would be paying twice for the same content.

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 Publishing Support Fund at UT

UT's mission is "to move forward the frontiers of human knowledge and enrich and elevate the citizens of the state of Tennessee, the nation, and the world."

Because both the UT Libraries and the Office of Research and Engagement consider open access publishing to support the university's mission, we co-sponsor the campus's Open Publishing Support Fund.  The OPSF helps UT researchers pay article processing charges to enable open access to peer-reviewed articles using the "Gold OA" model.  Be aware: There are specific criteria and guidelines you must meet to be eligible. 

Learn more about UT's Open Publishing Support Fund.

Open Access: An Introduction

Cover of Open Access Book

Peter Suber's 2012 book, Open Access, is an excellent introduction to open access and is available open access -- free and online -- at the Internet Archive.

"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.

Open Access Explained in a Short Video

by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen, with Jorge Cham from PHD Comics. (8 minutes)

Free to Reuse with Credit

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License

You are free to reuse original material on this guide if you credit Rachel Caldwell and University of Tennessee Libraries; however, much of the information on this page comes from other sources. Check the permissions you need to reuse any material that comes from other sources.


The author of this page in not a lawyer and the information provided does not constitute legal advice.