Publishing Open Access

It’s time to pick a publisher to send your article. You have so many different options, so why would you ever want to pick open access?

Idealism aside, open access is the sensible choice for researchers who want maximum research impact. Several studies have shown that articles that are freely available online are cited more frequently than those locked behind toll-access–usually by more than 25%. This isn’t just about the money–articles that are online for free are easier to aggregate and search for, leading to increased traffic. When your article is open access, it will be cited by any researcher who finds it relevant, instead of only those researchers whose institutions can afford the journal you published it in.

Also, publishing open access is the first step in breaking a cycle that hurts your own ability to do research. Thanks to the status quo, university libraries everywhere (even Harvard!) are cutting subscriptions. Help fix the problem before you realize that the article you need for your research is no longer easily accessible to you!

If you would like to publish in an open access journal, please check out the Directory of Open Access Journals, the most comprehensive list of OA journals to date. It is searchable at the article level as well as by field, so it’s a great resource for picking an OA journal as well as for doing your own research!

This OA journal is asking that I pay to submit an article–why should I? And what can I do if I can’t afford it?

Many open access publishers, such as BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science, have adopted author-pays models to support themselves financially. Many have criticized this model for penalizing researchers and discriminating against those without proper resources.

While it is true that in an ideal world, researchers would be rewarded instead of charged to publish articles, it should be noted that many non-open access journals also employ publication fees either explicitly or in extra charges for things like color printing, correction costs, reprint costs, and extra page charges.

Furthermore, many funding organizations and institutions have expressed willingness to foot these page charges for authors who want to publish in open access journals. Ask your research funder is such an option is available, and see if your university has a partnership with the journal you are trying to publish in (which will give you a discount) or if there are discretionary funds for open access publishing.

If all is said and done and you still don’t have the money for it, almost all of these publishers offer hassle-free fee waivers to those who ask. The process for accepting your article for publication will, of course, be completely separate to getting a fee waiver to ensure a publication based on merit.

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