Finding an open access journal for your article
FAQ: How can I find a suitable open access journal in which to publish my work?
Perhaps your funder expects you to publish your work in an open access journal, or you’d like to enjoy the citation advantage of making your work open access, but you’re not sure where to start. Here are a few things to think about.
Definition of open access
“(i) RCUK defines Open Access as unrestricted, on‐line access to peer‐reviewed and published research papers. Specifically a user must be able to do the following free of any access charge:
- Read published papers in an electronic format;
- Search for and re‐use the content of published papers both manually and using automated tools (such as those for text and data mining) provided that any such re‐use is subject to full and proper attribution and does not infringe any copyrights to third‐party material included in the paper.
(ii) RCUK considers that the ‘content’ of a paper includes, but is not limited to, the text, data, images and figures within a paper. “
The RCUK definition encompasses both elements of ‘open access’: the ability to read an article and the right to use its content in different ways. This distinction is important when you are considering where to publish, since some funders (including RCUK) require publication under a Creative Commons CC-BY licence (which permits sharing, adaptation and commercial use of the work, subject only to attribution) and many so-called ‘open access’ journals are not compliant.
Types of open access journal
- Fully open access – the whole journal is open access; the publisher may or may not charge a fee (an ‘article processing charge’ or APC) for publishing your article. The Directory of Open Access Journals lists around 9000 journals and can be searched or browsed by subject area. PLOS Publications and Biomed Central are highly regarded publishers of fully open access journals.
- Hybrid – some articles in the journal are open access. The number of hybrid journals has increased hugely over the last year as publishers seek to comply with RCUK’s latest requirements. In a hybrid journal your article will be open access only if you pay the APC; if you choose not to pay then the article will remain available to subscribers only. Publishers such as Cambridge University Press; Intellect; Maney Publishing; Oxford Journals; Sage; Taylor and Francis; Wiley Blackwell and others offer hybrid publishing models.
Finding out your preferred journal’s policy
There are a couple of really useful tools for finding out publishers’ and/or journals’ policies and services for open access.
SHERPA/RoMEO has for several years been the internationally recognised source of information about publishers’ self-archiving policies (i.e. whether they permit full text deposit in repositories such as NECTAR). Originally developed to support the ‘green’ route to open access, SHERPA/RoMEO has since been enhanced to support ‘gold’ open access with links to copyright policies and publishers’ paid open access options. It is therefore an excellent starting point for your search.
Sample journal page in SHERPA/RoMEO: Nature.
SHERPA/FACT is a new tool (currently under beta testing) that will allow you to check whether the journal you have chosen to publish in complies with your funders’ requirements. Designed for those receiving funding from either RCUK or the Wellcome Trust, the tool provides details according to funder, journal and publication stage. Results from the search include links to the publisher’s open access option (if any) and to the funder’s policy.
Sample page in SHERPA/FACT: AHRC-funded researcher submitting to Past and Present
If you cannot find your chosen journal in either of the above services then you will probably have to resort to navigating the publisher’s website to find further information. Details of open access options are usually found among information for authors or editors or on copyright pages; alternatively, a search for ‘open access’ will usually do the trick.