In this article we want to see what Open Access (OA) means to researchers and publishers. To describe it simply, open access means that the article or academic work is published in a database or medium that is accessible free of charge to anyone who needs it. Typically, access to published works require the payment of some money which is usually high in case of subscription to journals that are reserved for students and academics.
In an open access system, one can have access to the required papers, conference articles and different research data freely except for the observation of copyright rules. Nonetheless, there are publishing related costs that must be recovered somehow, and that is why the researchers are asked to pay for the processing costs. In order to help researchers, some institutions offer funds.
There are thousands of open access journals with about 2 million articles. About one third of academic journals offer open access. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has been prepared for researchers to find and take their required articles.
In year 2003, Lund University in Sweden created DOAJ. The aim has been to ensure that the papers and journals in this database have gone through content quality control. The members of this data base must observe DOAJ’s Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing (Principles), otherwise, their membership will be cancelled. In fact, the goal of DOAJ is to facilitate the advancement of science by providing information to anyone who is interested.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of publishing in open access journals?
The main advantage is that you can offer the result of your research to those interested and this way encourage others to carry on research in your field of study. Plus, these articles can be easily found and have more short-time impacts because of their accessibility.
One disadvantage is that you might not be able to afford the cost for publishing of your article. Non-open access journals charge subscription fees from users but open access ones charge the researchers instead. Also by publishing in an open access journal you may lose the chance of publishing your article in a more prestigious journal which is not open access but will further your career advancement and standing as a researcher.
What are other alternatives?
- University archives: Everyone can have access to these archives of article freely.
- Public archiving: arXiv is a paper repository in the field of science. Many researchers tend to use it, instead of an open access or peer-reviewed journal.
- Researcher’s webpage: It is possible as well to publish your paper in your own webpage, although there may be some time restrictions.
In the end if all other mediums fail you, you can still self-archive your works, but make sure that each path you take fulfills your professional goals.