Open access journals are scholarly journals that are available to the reader "without financial or other barrier other than access to the internet itself." Some are subsidized, and some require payment on behalf of the author.

Overview Edit

Subsidized journals are financed by an academic institution or a government information center; those requiring payment are typically financed by money made available to researchers for the purpose from a public or private funding agency, as part of a research grant. There have also been several modifications of open access journals that have considerably different natures: hybrid open access journals and delayed open access journals.

Open access journals (sometimes called the "gold road to open access") are one of the two general methods for providing open access. The other one (sometimes called the "green road") is self-archiving in a repository. The publisher of an open Access journal is known as an open access publisher, and the process, open access publishing.

Definitions and typesEdit

In the original definition from the BOAI, "open access" was defined as "having no financial or other barrier barrier other than access to the internet itself." However, there have been a number of modifications of this, both to increase the range of the requirement, and to make it more flexible. In particular, some journals have every article open access, including review articles. This is more than the initial requirement. On the other hand, some otherwise open access journals have a limitation on the commercial reuse of the articles, and this would, strictly, speaking disqualify them.

In successively looser senses, open access journals may be considered to be:

  • Journals entirely open access
    • Journals with research articles open access
      • Journals with some research articles open access
        • Journals with some articles open access and the other delayed access
          • Journals with delayed open access
            • Journals permitting self-archiving of articles.

In the categories and discussion below,

There is no specific name to include them all.

Financing open access journalsEdit

Open access journals divide into those that charge publication fees and those that do not. Most large open access journals charge publication fees, but most open access journals overall do not[1].

Fee-based open access journalsEdit

Fee-based open access journals require payment on behalf of the author. The money might come from the author but more often comes from the author's research grant or employer. In cases of economic hardship, many journals will waive all or part of the fee. (This generally includes instances where the authors come from a less developed country). Journals charging publication fees normally take various steps to ensure that editors conducting peer review do not know whether authors have requested, or been granted, fee waivers, or to ensure that every paper is approved by an independent editor with no financial stake in the journal.

No-fee open access journalsEdit

No-fee open access journals use a variety of business models. As summarized by Peter Suber: "Some no-fee OA journals have direct or indirect subsidies from institutions like universities, laboratories, research centers, libraries, hospitals, museums, learned societies, foundations, or government agencies. Some have revenue from a separate line of non-OA publications. Some have revenue from advertising, auxiliary services, membership dues, endowments, reprints, or a print or premium edition. Some rely, more than other journals, on volunteerism. Some undoubtedly use a combination of these means."

Advantages and disadvantages of open access in generalEdit


The primary advantage of open access is that the content is available to users everywhere regardless of affiliation with a subscribing library. This will benefit:

  • authors of such articles, who will see their papers more read, more cited, and better integrated into the structure of science
  • academic readers in general at institutions that cannot afford the journal, or where the journal is out of scope
  • researchers at smaller institutions, where their library cannot afford the journal
  • readers in general, who may be interested in the subject matter
  • the general public, who will have the opportunity to see what scientific research is about
  • taxpayers who will see the results of the research they pay for
  • patients and those caring for them, who will be able to keep abreast of medical research
Main article: Open access


There are two categories of objections:

  1. Open access is unnecessary
  2. Open access is too impractical to implement.
Main article: Open access

Advantages and disadvantages of open access journals as a mode of open accessEdit

The primary advantage of open access journals is that the entire content is available to users everywhere regardless of affiliation with a subscribing library. In contrast, with self-archiving, only some of the journal articles are available, and it is not possible for the reader to know which they might be.

Advantages for the AuthorEdit

  • The main motivation for most authors to publish in an open access journal is increased visibility and ultimately a citation advantage (see also Open access). Research citations of articles in a Hybrid open access journal has shown that open access articles are cited more frequently or earlier than non-Open Access articles [2].

Disadvantages Edit

  • In the case of fee-based open-access journals, authors either need to have a sponsor (such as a funder or employer) to pay on their behalf, or personally pay the publication fee.

Current problems and projectsEdit

Identifying open access journals and the articles in them Edit

There are several major directories of open access journals, most notably: Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and Open J-Gate. Each has its own special standards for what journals are included.

Articles in the major open access journals are included in the standard bibliographic databases for their subject, such as PubMed. Those established long enough to have an impact factor, and otherwise qualified, are in Web of Science and Scopus. DOAJ includes indexing for the individual articles in some but not all of the many journals it includes.

Major projects to provide open access journals Edit

Pioneers in open access publishing in the biomedical domain were journals like the BMJ, Journal of Medical Internet Research, and Medscape, who were created or made their content freely accessible in the late 90s [3]. BioMed Central, a for-profit publisher with now dozens of open access journals, published its first article in the year 2000 [4]. The Public Library of Science launched its first open-access journal, PLoS Biology in 2003, PLoS Medicine in 2004, and PLoS One in 2006 [5].

Criticism Edit

Opponents of the open access model assert that the pay-for-access model is necessary to ensure that the publisher is adequately compensated for their work. Scholarly journal publishers that support pay-for-access claim that the "gatekeeper" role they play, maintaining a scholarly reputation, arranging for peer review, and editing and indexing articles, require economic resources that are not supplied under an open access model. The cost of paper publication may also make open access to paper copies infeasible. Opponents claim that open access is not necessary to ensure fair access to developing nations; differential pricing, or financial aid from developed countries or institutions can make access to proprietary journals affordable.

Reactions of existing publishers to open access journal publishing have ranged from moving with enthusiasm to a new open access business model, to experiments with providing as much free or open access as possible, to active lobbying against open access proposals. There are many new publishers starting up as open access publishers, with the Public Library of Science being the best-known example.

Open access is the subject of much discussion amongst academics, librarians, university administrators, government official, commercial publishers, and learned society publishers. There is substantial disagreement about the concept of open access, along with much debate and discussion about the economics of funding an open access scholarly communications system.

History Edit

Many journals have been subsidized ever since the beginnings of scientific journals. It is common for those countries with developing higher educational and research facilities to subsidze the publication of the nation's scientific and academic researchers, and even to provide for others to publish in such journals, to build up the prestige of these journals and their visibility. Such subsidies have sometimes been partial, to reduce the subscription price, or total, for those readers in the respective countries, but are now often universal.

In 1998, one of the first open access journals in medicine, the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR)[6] was created, publishing its first issue in 1999. What is remarkable about this development is that it was created by researchers for researchers, without involvement of any commercial publishers, and with practically no budget. JMIR remains a highly successful open access journal and to date is perhaps one of the few (the only?) OA journals which is not making a loss or is dependent on external grants (such as PLoS).


Selected Open access publishersEdit

(This does not necessarily imply that all content published by these publishers is open access)

Lists of open access journals (all fields)Edit

for a more complete list, see:

Lists of open access journals limited to certain fieldsEdit

See alsoEdit

Case studiesEdit

Björk, Bo-Christer & Turk, Žiga The Electronic Journal of Information Technology in Construction (ITcon): an open access journal using an un-paid, volunteer-based organization

Solomon, David J. Medical Education Online: a case study of an open access journal in health professional education

Willinsky, John & Mendis, Ranjini Open access on a zero budget: a case study of Postcolonial Text

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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