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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


The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) provides an index to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. Additionally, most traditional publishers such as Elsevier, Wiley, and Springer also provide open access options.


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!."  

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 supports ASU authors through our relationships with publishers, as well as administering the ASU Open Access Publication Fund

We are 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.

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.