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Open Access

A guide to open access; understanding what it is, why it's important, and what you can do.

Understanding Gold Open Access

Gold open access is delivered through publication by an open access publisher, as a journal article or a book. To subsidize publishing costs associated with peer review and printing, some journals may require payment from authors in the form of an article processing charge (APC). However, the majority of open access journals publish articles at no cost. The benefit of gold open access is the potential to share your research on a professional platform that is optimized to be discoverable ;and is displayed in the final published typeset. The transfer of cost to the author is the primary obstacle for researchers pursuing gold open access.

Illustration of the workflow of a gold open access article

Where to Publish

Journals

Authors choosing to publish their research as open access are offered an abundance of options. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) provides an index to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. Additionally, most legacy publishers such as Elsevier, Wiley, and Springer also provide open access options.

Books

Although not exclusive, scholarly publishing of monographs tends to emphasize the humanities and social sciences. Historically, university presses and smaller publishers produced a majority of scholarly researched books.

Think! Check! Submit!

Whether deciding to publish in a traditional or open access journal, it is important to carefully evaluate the credibility of the publisher and the journal.  See Evaluating Publishing Options for more information on what characteristics to look for. 

Or, consider this simple checklist of "Think! Check! Submit!."  

This short video demonstrates the "Think! Check! Submit!" process.

Article Processing Charges (APCs)

Open access publishing still requires finding ways to fund operating costs. Many journals are supported by an institution or sponsor, but the most well known method of support is through Article Processing Charges (APCs), modeled after traditional page charges. Rather than charging the reader or institutions to access content, publishers generate revenue by requiring authors to pay an APC, ranging from a few hundred dollars, to upward of $5,000 depending on the journal. However, most open access journals do not charge authors an APC or have a waiver option for those who cannot afford to pay. (Suber, 2006) (Crawford, 2015).

It's important to remember that charging authors to publish is not solely limited to open access publishing, and can include charges for color images, number of pages, or including supplementary material.

As many funding agencies require researchers to make their published work and accompanying data sets openly accessible, authors may receive financial assistance from the agency to cover APCs. SHERPA/JULIET provides the open access policy of various funding organizations.

Hybrid Open Access

Authors publishing in subscription journals may be offered the option to make only their article open access for a fee (usually through an article processing charge). This is referred to as "hybrid open access." Such practices raise concerns about publishers double-dipping, whereby libraries are charged a subscription cost for material that authors previously paid to be freely available online. Most subscription journal publishers have an open access option - check the journal's website for details.

Open Access Publishing Discounts for ASU Authors

While the majority of open access journals publish articles for free, many of the most well-known open access publishers do require that authors pay an Article Processing Charge (APC) to offset the cost of publication. The ASU Library is able to provide discounts on APCs with certain publishers as a result of the following partnerships and subscriptions:

ECS has provided these directions: How to publish open access with ECS

Some funding agencies will allow these charges to be paid from grant funds, but of course, not all authors are funded. Many publishers will grant a waiver of the APC upon request if the author is not able to pay, so it is always worth checking to see if that’s a possibility. In addition, there are other ways you can make your work openly available for free.

ASU Open Access Journals

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