Open access journals
are scholarly journals that are available online to the reader "without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself." Some are subsidized, and some require payment on behalf of the author.
Subsidized journals are financed by an academic institution
Academic institution is an educational institution dedicated to education and research, which grants academic degrees. See also academy and university.- Types of academic institutions include :...
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 journal
A newly popular variation on open access journals is the Hybrid Open Access Journal. This refers to a journal where only some of the articles are open access...
s and delayed open access journal
Delayed open access journals are traditional subscription-based journals that provide open access or free access upon the elapse of an embargo period following the initial publication date...
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
To self-archive is to deposit a free copy of a digital document on the World Wide Web in order to provide open access to it. The term usually refers to the self-archiving of peer-reviewed research journal and conference articles as well as theses, deposited in the author's own institutional...
in a repository. The publisher of an open access journal is known as an "open access publisher", and the process, "open access publishing".
In successively looser senses, open access journals
may be considered to be:
- Journals entirely open access
- Journals with research articles open access (hybrid open access journals)
- Journals with some research articles open access (hybrid open access journals)
- Journals with some articles open access and the other delayed access
- Journals with delayed open access (delayed open access journals)
- Journals permitting self-archiving of articles
Financing open access journals
Open access journals divide into those that charge publication fees and those that do not.
Fee-based open access journals
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
A developing country, also known as a less-developed country, is a nation with a low level of material well-being. Since no single definition of the term developing country is recognized internationally, the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries...
). 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 journals
No-fee open access journals use a variety of business model
A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value...
s. As summarized by Peter Suber: "Some no-fee OA journals have direct or indirect subsidies
A subsidy is an assistance paid to a business or economic sector. Most subsidies are made by the government to producers or distributors in an industry to prevent the decline of that industry or an increase in the prices of its products or simply to encourage it to hire more labor A subsidy (also...
from institutions like universities, laboratories, research centers, libraries, hospitals, museums, learned societies
A learned society is an organization that exists to promote an academic discipline/profession, as well a group of disciplines. Membership may be open to all, may require possession of some qualification, or may be an honor conferred by election, as is the case with the oldest learned societies,...
, foundations, or government agencies. Some have revenue from a separate line of non-OA publications. Some have revenue from advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...
, 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."
For more detail, see the list of OA journal business models
from the Open Access Directory
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.
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
The Public Library of Science is a nonprofit open-access scientific publishing project aimed at creating a library of open access journals and other scientific literature under an open content license...
being the best-known example.
Advocates believe the primary advantage of open access is that the content is available to users everywhere regardless of affiliation with a subscribing library. This is intended to 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
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...
- 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
There are a number of objections:
- Open access is unnecessary
- Open access is too impractical to implement
- Many fields of research have few or no good open access journals
- The author-pays model obstructs free and open exchange of scientific results
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
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...
, 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
A developed country is a country that has a high level of development according to some criteria. Which criteria, and which countries are classified as being developed, is a contentious issue...
or institutions can make access to proprietary journals affordable.
Pros and cons of variants
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.
The main motivation for most authors to publish in an open access journal is increased visibility and ultimately a citation advantage. 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.
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.
Identifying open access journals and the articles in them
There are several major directories of open access journals, most notably: Directory of Open Access Journals
The Directory of Open Access Journals is website maintained by Lund University which lists open access journals. The project defines open access journals as scientific and scholarly journals that meet high quality standards by exercising peer review or editorial quality control and "use a funding...
(DOAJ) and Open J-Gate
Open J-Gate is a free database of open access journals, launched in February 2006, hosted by Informatics Ltd.Informatics started the metadata aggregation from OA journals as part of the development of 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 database
A bibliographic database is a database of bibliographic records, an organized digital collection of references to published literature, including journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings, reports, government and legal publications, patents, books, etc...
s for their subject, such as PubMed
PubMed is a free database accessing primarily the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. The United States National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health maintains the database as part of the Entrez information retrieval system...
. Those established long enough to have an impact factor
The impact factor, often abbreviated IF, is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to articles published in science and social science journals. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, with journals with higher impact factors deemed...
, and otherwise qualified, are in Web of Science
ISI Web of Knowledge is an academic citation indexing and search service, which is combined with web linking and provided by Thomson Reuters. Web of Knowledge coverage encompasses the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. It provides bibliographic content and the tools to access, analyze,...
Scopus, officially named SciVerse Scopus, is a bibliographic database containing abstracts and citations for academic journal articles. It covers nearly 18,000 titles from over 5,000 international publishers, including coverage of 16,500 peer-reviewed journals in the scientific, technical, medical,...
includes indexing for the individual articles in some but not all of the many journals it includes.
Major projects to provide open access journals
Pioneers in open access publishing in the biomedical domain were journals like the BMJ
BMJ is a partially open-access peer-reviewed medical journal. Originally called the British Medical Journal, the title was officially shortened to BMJ in 1988. The journal is published by the BMJ Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Medical Association...
, Journal of Medical Internet Research
The Journal of Medical Internet Research is a peer-reviewed open-access medical journal established in 1999 covering eHealth and "healthcare in the Internet age". It is edited and published by Gunther Eysenbach. The journal is widely regarded as one of the pioneers in open access publishing...
, and Medscape
Medscape is a web resource for physicians and other health professionals. It features peer-reviewed original medical journal articles, CME , a customized version of the National Library of Medicine's MEDLINE database, daily medical news, major conference coverage, and drug information—including a...
, who were created or made their content freely accessible in the late 90s. BioMed Central
BioMed Central is a UK-based, for-profit scientific publisher specialising in open access journal publication. BMC, and its sister companies Chemistry Central and PhysMath Central, publish over 200 scientific journals. Most BMC journals are now published only online. BMC describes itself as the...
, a for-profit publisher with now dozens of open access journals, published its first article in the year 2000. The Public Library of Science launched its first open-access journal, PLoS Biology
PLoS Biology is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering all aspects of biology. Publication began on October 13, 2003.It was the first journal of the Public Library of Science. All content in PLoS Biology is published under the Creative Commons "by-attribution" license...
in 2003, PLoS Medicine
PLoS Medicine is a peer-reviewed medical journal covering the full spectrum of the medical sciences. It began operation on October 19, 2004. It was the second journal of the Public Library of Science , a non-profit open-access publisher. All content in PLoS Medicine is published under the Creative...
in 2004, and PLoS ONE
PLoS ONE is an open access peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science since 2006. It covers primary research from any discipline within science and medicine. All submissions go through an internal and external pre-publication peer review but are not excluded on the...
Many journals have been subsidized ever since the beginnings of scientific journal
In academic publishing, a scientific journal is a periodical publication intended to further the progress of science, usually by reporting new research. There are thousands of scientific journals in publication, and many more have been published at various points in the past...
s. It is common for those countries with developing higher educational and research facilities to subsidize 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.
The first digital-only, free journals (eventually to be called "open access journals") were published on the Internet in the late 1980s. Among them was Bryn Mawr Classical Review, Postmodern Culture, Psycoloquy,
and The Public-Access Computer Systems Review.
In 1998, one of the first open access journals in medicine, the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) was created, publishing its first issue in 1999. One of the more unique models is utilized by the Journal of Surgical Radiology, which uses the net profits from external revenue to provide compensation to the editors for their continuing efforts.
One of the very first online journals, GeoLogic, TerraNova, was published by Paul Browning and started in 1989. It was not a discrete journal but an electronic section of TerraNova. Open access stopped in 1997 due to a change in the policy of the editors (EUG) and publishing house (Blackwell).
- Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization headquartered in Mountain View, California, United States devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright-licenses known as Creative Commons...
- List of open-access journals (Category)
- Open content
Open content or OpenContent is a neologism coined by David Wiley in 1998 which describes a creative work that others can copy or modify. The term evokes open source, which is a related concept in software....
- Open data
Open data is the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. The goals of the open data movement are similar to those of other "Open" movements such as open source, open...
- Public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...
- Public Knowledge
Public Knowledge is a non-profit Washington, D.C.-based public interest group that is involved in intellectual property law, competition, and choice in the digital marketplace, and an open standards/end-to-end internet....
- Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association is an industry association which aims to promote open access publishing and to establish best practices in the field...
- Open access journal business models. A community-edited list at the Open Access Directory.
- Okerson, Ann & James O'Donnell (Eds.) Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads; A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing. Washington, DC., Association of Research Libraries
The Association of Research Libraries is an organization of the leading research libraries in North America. As of October 2006, it comprises 123 libraries at comprehensive, research-intensive institutions in the US and Canada that share similar missions, aspirations, and achievements...
, June 1995.
- Willinsky, John. The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship (Cambrdige, MA: MIT Press
The MIT Press is a university press affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts .-History:...
, 2006). Open Access Copy
Multidisciplinary lists of open access journals
Subject-specific lists of open access journals