Open Access (OA) is one of the most widely discussed topics in scholarly publishing today. At the same time, it is also one of the most misunderstood topics, surrounded by several questions and myths. We will debunk these myths while focusing on publishing in an OA journal. Publishing under an Open Access umbrella can have many benefits, which we will cover in detail.
However, choosing a journal to publish research articles is becoming increasingly difficult and a source of concern. Journals with a high level of recognition in the scientific world usually require high fees to publish an article. Generally, journals that do not require fees have simplified editorial procedures, are (usually) much less known, and articles published in these journals are cited less often. But there are many options for high-quality OA journals, and we will discuss these as well.
What Is An Open Access Journal?
An OA journal is a peer-reviewed collection of articles that are free to read, download, add to, and use online, anytime. OA journals use Creative Commons licenses (CCs), making it easier to share, use, and build upon original work.
Are Open Access Journals Low Quality?
A common myth about OA journals is that they are not of good quality because they are fraudulent or predatory journals. Predatory journals fraudulently trade-off existing journal names. This means that these journals are not as reputable or do not provide the same quality assurance as subscription-based journals or other OA journals. What can happen here is: authors send in their work, pay publication fees (in good faith), only to find out their research got published under a different title.
While, unfortunately, some authors or researchers may fall into the predatory trap, this is not the case with all OA journals. There are many tools and resources available to guide researchers through the maze of journal options, determine a journal’s reliability, and not fall prey to the trap. Below are just a few.
- A tool to make an informed choice about whether a particular journal is a good choice is the Think.Check.Submit. checklist, which allows researchers and authors to make informed choices before sending their articles for review. The checklist also includes ways to evaluate the credentials of any title or publisher.
- The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is an online directory that indexes and provides access to high-quality, OA, peer-reviewed journals. Researchers can use this free-of-charge service to determine the reliability of a journal. Also, an entire list of OA journals that are accessible worldwide is available here.
- You may also check to see if a journal is a part of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), a diverse community of organizations focused on applying in-depth review and rigorous criteria for membership while actively collaborating on important scholarly communication initiatives.
Are Open Access Journals Peered Reviewed?
Good quality OA journals have a rigorous peer-review process. In fact, it is one of the main indicators of a reliable OA journal. If a journal does not have the peer-reviewed procedures and the peer-review process used clearly described on its website, it is best to steer clear. Additionally, journal content must be clearly marked as peer-reviewed (or not).
The peer-review process is an essential part of the scientific community. To read more about its impact and the types of peer review, read our What is a Peer Review article.
Open Access Journals Impact Factor
Another way to check the validity of a journal is to check if the journal has a high impact factor. The impact factor is an important element to consider when choosing a journal for publication because it is essentially the prestige and importance of a particular article or paper. Problems sometimes arise because it takes time for an OA journal to build a high impact factor. This, in turn, dissuades researchers from publishing or even considering newer OA journals because they question the quality of the published work.
There are plenty of reputable options for the wary researchers that allow them to publish under the OA umbrella without sacrificing impact. One such option is PNAS, a hybrid OA journal. You may also use the Scientific Journal Ranking (SJR) portal to get a more comprehensive picture of the quality and relevance of OA journals instead of only focusing on the impact factor.
How To Choose A Reliable OA Journal
We have covered a few tools and resources to make sure the journal we are submitting our work to is reliable. Some more points to take into consideration are:
- Is the publisher reputable? An OA journal included in a primary index such as Web of Science has been critically reviewed and is likely a respected and reputable OA journal.
- Is the journal indexed in an academic database or search engine? Check if the OA journal you are interested in is indexed in a specialized database or search engine. Researchers rely on these databases. Additionally, the journal should be archived.
- Does the journal follow COPE’s guidelines? For example, if research misconduct has occurred (citing manipulation, plagiarism, data falsification, etc.), the guidelines ensure that no journal or editor encourages such conduct.
- Does the journal follow publication ethics? A journal should have policies on publication ethics, and these should be clearly visible on the journal’s website.
It is also important to note that there are good scientific journals (published every six months) where articles are accepted and published free of charge. After publishing, all articles are placed in different indexing databases of scientific journals in an Open Access formula. In this situation, the possibility of citation and recognition of the published article also increases. Below are three such journals:
- The International Journal of New Economics and Social Sciences (IJONESS)
- The International Journal of Legal Studies (IJOLS)
- The International Journal of Innovation in Social Sciences and Engineering (IJIESR)
Four Factors to Consider When Publishing
These four differentiators between an OA journal and a traditional one are essential to keep in mind:
- Visibility - More people can access a journal published in an OA format. Therefore, more people will be able to view and use it.
- Cost - Traditional journals can charge exuberant amounts of money for both the publishers and the authors. You may read about the reasoning behind this in our article: subscription-based journals are expensive. Although some OA journals may also charge a fee at the time of submission to cover article processing costs (APC) and editorial costs, these fees can then get waived by institutions and funders worldwide who support those OA publishing charges (like Horizon Europe, Plan-S, and Oxford Academic).
- Prestige - Some researchers are reticent to publishing in an OA journal because of the prestige a more traditional, well-established journal may hold. But as more and more researchers, peer-reviewers and authors publish and contribute in an OA fashion, these OA journals will gain more prestige and reap all of the other benefits of Open Access.
- Speed - OA journals have a much faster publication process than traditional journals, and speed is an important factor for researchers when they publish.
Is It Better To Publish In An Open Access Journal?
Publishing in an Open Access journal comes with many benefits, as we have identified. A significant benefit is that research published in an OA journal is available for anyone to read, anywhere, for a long time to come. Even those outside academia, like policymakers and journalists, have an exciting opportunity to read and use this research.
Many studies demonstrate that OA literature receives more citations than subscription publications. This is primarily due to the visibility aspect we mentioned earlier that OA journals have over traditional ones. Citations and visibility escalate a researcher’s reputation in the scientific community, so any increase in these is a tremendous benefit.
OA literature also has the benefit of having a one-time fee. Under a subscription, you pay every renewable year, so always. Additionally, researchers in developing countries can benefit from OA journals, allowing for our society as a whole to move research forward, collaborate, and trigger ideas for new projects.
Scientific research can only advance and change the world if it is shared with the rest of the scientific community and society at large. Research published in an OA fashion allows information to flow to the reader without any restrictions or high costs.
We at Orvium strongly believe in Open Access and its many benefits to publishing, sharing, collaborating, and discussing. We have covered the benefits of publishing in an OA journal, some difficulties that arise when publishing, and included plenty of resources to take any fears or concerns and toss them.
We have many publications relating to everything OA (and more) on our platform. Also, feel free to start a conversation with us about OA journals, give us your opinion, or tell us if a resource has helped you publish.