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Open Access Toolkit

How Can I Publish Open Access?

There are two main options:

Gold Open Access Publishing

This is when the journal you publish in makes digital content freely available immediately upon publication.

This can be done in two ways:

  • Full OA which means that all of its articles are available online, or
  • Hybrid OA which means that some articles are made available while others are not

Open access journals generally publish your work under a copyright licence, rather than an assignment of copyright.

This is the difference between you retaining copyright ownership of your work and the journal owning your publication.


Green Open Access Publishing

This is when you continue to publish in traditional subscription-based journals, however the publisher allows you to deposit (self-archive) a digital copy of the article manuscript online.

You will usually be allowed to deposit the author’s final manuscript in either a subject-based or institutional repository (ie. UC’s Research Repository), or by posting the article to your personal website.

Many authors prefer the green option because it allows you to continue publishing with well-established journals in your field.

Further Reading:

Open Access Publishers & Directories

Academic publishing explained (video)


Predatory Publishers

There are many reputable publishers who produce open access journals including PLoS, Hindawi and BioMed Central. However the onset of open access publishing has also seen an increase in vanity publishers (those who charge an author fee but without peer review) and these can be difficult to distinguish from legitimate publishers. It is important to assess whether the publisher is reputable as well as the cost to publish.

Resources by Jeffrey Beall:

  • Criteria for determining predatory open-access publishers (2012)
  • Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers 2015 - we recommend that researchers, scientists, and academics avoid doing business with these publishers and journals. Scholars should avoid sending article submissions to them, serving on their editorial boards or reviewing papers for them
  • Beall's List of Predatory Standalone Journals - we recommend that scholars read the available reviews, assessments and descriptions provided here, and then decide for themselves whether they want to submit articles, serve as editors or on editorial boards
  • Hijacked Journals - sometimes someone will create a counterfeit website that pretends to be the website of a legitimate scholarly journal. The website creators then solicit manuscript submissions for the hijacked version of the journal, pocketing the money. In some cases the legitimate versions of the journals are only published in print form and they may not have websites
  • Misleading Metrics - this is a list of questionable companies that purport to provide valid scholarly metrics at the researcher, article, or journal level

As a potential author, be wary of publishers who:

  • promise an unusually short time period between article submission and publication
  • aggressively pursue authors rather than the other way around (particularly true if a publisher pursues authors haphazardly outside of their normal field/discipline)
  • launch a number of new journals “overnight” (very many new titles with just a few articles published each)
  • seemingly exist to promote a product(s) or lifestyle or who appear to be sponsored by a commercial entity

 As a researcher, be wary of:

  • publications whose articles contain typos or other noticeable errors
  • publications whose article citations are faulty or incomplete
  • publications whose articles are sensationalistic or make sweeping or groundbreaking claims
  • publications whose articles indicate a very short time span between submission, acceptance and publication dates (one article I saw was: “Received January 17, 2012; Accepted January 19, 2012; Published January 23, 2012″)
  • publications for which author credentials for existing articles are not clear or are lacking
  • publications whose research articles lack full disclosure of author affiliation or funding agency
  • publications for which data is lacking and/or doesn’t seem to support research article conclusions
  • publications of research articles whose authors concede no study shortcomings or limitations
  • bad writing or poor grasp of English

Having said this, not all of the above are necessarily signs of untrustworthy publishing practices.  The hard sciences, in particular, have had a long tradition of rapid scholarly communications and in some disciplines multiple-authored research put out very rapidly under peer review is the norm.  For instance, see Nature Communications.

Scopus & Open Access

Did you know that Scopus indexes over 4,200 fully open access journals? Look for the words 'Open Access' in your search results.


SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication.

SPARC’s activities are centered on:

  • Open Access to Scholarly and Scientific Research Articles
  • Open Data
  • Open Educational Resources (OER)

Supporting Author's Rights is an important area they support.