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Open Access

This guide will provide recommendations and assistance in finding information about Open Access.
Finding Publishers' Open Access Policies

Sherpa Romeo is a tool that helps you determine whether a publisher will allow you to make your publication openly available. If you signed an author's contract with a publisher you may have signed over your rights. You can check if the publisher will allow you to make a version of it available. Sherpa Romeo is an online resource that aggregates and analyses publisher open access policies from around the world and provides summaries of publisher copyright and open access archiving policies on a journal-by-journal basis.

Evaluating Journals for Quality

It is important for scholars to determine the quality and reputation of the journals to which they submit their work for publication.  Just as with subscription journals, there are unscrupulous OA publishers who spam scholars via email with tempting offers to submit journal articles and/or serve on editorial boards. Read more. Read more about how to find out if you've been contacted by a predatory publisher in this article from Nature.

OA publishing has undergone rapid growth in recent years, and in many cases OA publishers may be unfamiliar to scholars. OA journals should be judged by exactly the same criteria as any traditional publication, with a few additional considerations. Below are criteria for evaluating a specific journal, as well as links to organizations that evaluate publishers and journals.

Journal Criteria

  1. Caliber of the research published. Read over a few articles to assess the quality.
  2. Peer review process as described on the journal's website. Consider contacting published authors about their experience.
  3. Composition of the editorial board and staff. Are editors recognized experts, and are their affiliations provided?
  4. Ease of finding contact information for the publisher, including a street address and phone number (not just a contact form). Caution that some unscrupulous publishers include a fake address or an address for a private home to deceive readers
  5. Metrics of quality for the journal (i.e. impact factors, article-level metrics, or other trusted measures).
  6. OA journals: Transparency of journal's policy on charging for OA publication, and the amount of the charges.
  7. Copyright ownership for published content. Beware of open access journals that require all copyrights to be transferred to the publisher. True OA means the author retains their copyright via a Creative Commons or comparable license.

See this checklist from Think.Check.Submit. for other factors to consider.

Appraisal by the Industry

There are many organizations that vet individual journals and publishers, which may help authors assess legitimacy.
While exclusion from any of these services does not necessarily mean that a publisher is not reputable, authors may consider:

  1. Is the journal indexed in PubMedWeb of ScienceScopus, or other literature indexes in your field?
  2. Is the journal or publisher a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)?
  3. Does the journal have an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)?
  4. Does the journal have an impact factorSNIPSJR, or eigenfactor ranking? Beware of unrecognized ranking systems, often designed to mimic existing metrics. See a compiled list of Misleading Metrics.

Additionally, if it's open access:

  1. Is the journal included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) or the Directory of OA Scholarly Resources (ROAD)?
  2. Is the publisher a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)?
  3. Has the publication been evaluated by scholars in the Quality Open Access Market?
  4. Is the publisher or journal included on Beall's list of OA publishers with questionable business and peer review practices? (use the search box to find investigations into specific publishers or journal titles)

This section was created using resources from University of California San Francisco, Florida International University and Emory University.

Journal Selection Tools
Resources for Vetting Journals