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, learned society 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 journals and delayed open-access journals.
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 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 as:
- 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 economy). 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. While the payments are normally incurred per article published (e.g. BMC journals or PLoS ONE), there are some journals that apply them per manuscript submitted (e.g. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics) or per author (PeerJ).
No-fee open-access journals
No-fee open-access journals use a variety of business models. As summarized by Peter Suber: "Some no-fee OA journals have direct or indirect subsidies from institutions like universities, laboratories, research centers, libraries, hospitals, museums, learned societies, foundations, or government agencies. Some have revenue from a separate line of non-OA publications. Some have revenue from advertising, 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".
Advantages and disadvantages of open access journals are the subjects of much discussion amongst scholars and publishers. 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 being the best-known example.
A few obvious advantages of open access journals include the free access to scientific papers regardless of affiliation with a subscribing library, lower costs for research in academia and industry, in addition to improved access for the general public and higher citation rates for the author. However, a recent study concluded that overall citation rates for a time period of 2 years (2010/11) were 30% higher for subscription journals. After controlling for discipline, age of the journal and the location of the publisher, the differences largely disappeared in most subcategories except for journals that had been launched prior to 1996.
The main argument against open access journals is the possible damage to the peer review system, diminishing the overall quality of scientific journal publishing. For example in 2009, a hoax paper generated by a computer program was accepted for publication by a major publisher under the author-pays-for-publication model. Many newer open-access journals also lack the reputation of their subscription counterparts, which have been in business for decades. This effect has been diminishing though since 2001, reflecting the emergence of high quality professional open-access publishers such as PLoS and BioMedCentral.
Many opponents of the open-access model continue to assert that the pay-for-access model is necessary to ensure that the publishers are 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, and editing and indexing articles, require economic resources that are not supplied under an open-access model. Opponents claim that open access is not necessary to ensure fair access for developing nations; differential pricing, or financial aid from developed countries or institutions can make access to proprietary journals affordable. Some critics also point out the lack of funding for author fees.
Current problems and projects
Identifying open-access journals and the articles in them
Each has its own special standards for what journals are included.
Articles in the major open-access journals are included in the standard bibliographic databases for their subject, such as PubMed. Those established long enough to have an impact factor, and otherwise qualified, are in Web of Science and Scopus. DOAJ 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, Journal of Medical Internet Research, and Medscape, who were created or made their content freely accessible in the late 90s. BioMed Central, 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 in 2003, with PLoS Medicine following in 2004, and PLoS ONE in 2006.
Many journals have been subsidized ever since the beginnings of scientific journals. 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 were Bryn Mawr Classical Review, Postmodern Culture, Psycoloquy, and The Public-Access Computer Systems Review.
One of the very first online journals, GeoLogic, Terra NOVA, 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).
Full-blown scientific journals followed. In 1998, one of the first open-access journals in medicine was created, the Journal of Medical Internet Research, publishing its first issue in 1999. One of the more unusual 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.
In the biological and geological sciences, paleontology came into the forefront in 1998 with Palaeontologia Electronica, which quickly became the most-read paleontological journal in any format. One challenge to digital-only biological journals was the lack of protection afforded by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature to scientific names published in formats other than paper, but this was overcome by revisions to the Code in 1999 (effective January 1, 2000).
- Creative Commons
- List of open-access journals (Category)
- Open-access mandate
- Open content
- Open data
- Public domain
- Public Knowledge (non-profit organisation)
- Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
- Copyright policies of scientific publishers
- Suber, Peter. "Open Access Overview". Retrieved on 2012-11-13.
- Suber, Peter (November 2, 2006). "No-fee open-access journals". SPARC Open Access Newsletter.
- Sourcewatch. "Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine"
- Antelman, K. (2004). "Do open-access articles have a greater research impact?". College & Research Libraries News 65 (5): 372–382.
- Eysenbach, Gunther. 2006. "Citation Advantage of Open Access Articles" PLoS Biol 4(5). Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- Björk B.C. and Solomon, D. (2012). "Open access versus subscription journals: a comparison of scientific impact." BMC Medicine 10:73. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-73. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- Gilbert, Natasha. 2009. "Editor will quit over hoax paper: computer-generated manuscript accepted for publication in open-access journal." Nature News, 15 June 2009. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- Vogel, Gretchen. "Quandary: Scientists Prefer Reading Over Publishing 'Open Access' Papers." Science [online], January 14, 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- Eysenbach, Gunther. 2006. "The Open Access Advantage", Journal of Medical Internet Research, 8(2):e8. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- Suber, Peter. "Timeline of the Open Access movement". Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- "TerraNova"Template:Faisl verification
- "The Journal of Medical Internet Research"[not in citation given]
- "Journal of Surgical Radiology"Template:Ails verification
- [not in citation given]
- 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, June 1995.
- Willinsky, John. The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006). Open Access Copy
- Bergstrom, Theodore C.; Carl T. Bergstrom (May 2, 2004). "Will open access compete away monopoly profits in journal publishing?". Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- Accessibility, sustainability, excellence : how to expand access to research publications. United Kingdom: Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings. 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012. [chaired by Janet Finch, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester Lay summary] Check
- In Oldenburg's Long Shadow: Librarians, Research Scientists, Publishers, and the Control of Scientific Publishing
- Open Access Directory
- e-Century Publishing Corporation
Multidisciplinary lists of open-access journals
- Die Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek (English version) (EZB)
- J-STAGE – Japanese journals; not all content is open access
- Genamics JournalSeek
- Journals4Free - Journals4Free is a directory of full or partial open access journals (i.e., with an embargo period). Results may be limited to titles included in PubMed, Scopus, and ISI databases.
- JURN directory (arts & humanities ejournals)
- Open Access Journals Search Engine (OAJSE)
- Revistas CSIC, Scientific Journals published by CSIC, Spain
- University of Nevada Collection of Free Electronic Journals
- Directory of Open Access Journals
- African Journals OnLine (AJOL) - A portal for electronic journals from African countries; not all content is open access.
- Hrčak - Hrčak: Portal of scientific journals of Croatia; along with scientific and technical journals; this resource includes humanities journals.
- PANDORA - PANDORA, Australia's Web Archive, is a growing collection of Australian online publications, established initially by the National Library of Australia in 1996, including open access journals.
- Hong Kong Journals Online - Hong Kong Journals Online (HKJO) is a full-text image database providing access to selected academic and professional journals, both in English and Chinese, published in Hong Kong.
- SciELO - SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online is a collection of open access journals and a model for cooperative electronic publishing of scientific journals on the Internet - especially for developing countries.
- Arastirmax - Arastirmax Scientific Publication Index Journal List (especially Turkish Journals)
Subject-specific lists of open-access journals
- Alphabetical list of Open Access Journals in Ancient Studies
- Alphabetical List of Open Access Journals in Middle Eastern Studies
- ABC-Chemistry: Directory of Free Journals in Chemistry
- Open Access Journals in the Field of Education (American Education Research Association)
- Geoscience e-Journals
- FreeMedicalJournals (FreeMedicaljournals lists health open access journals and journals with open access after an embargo period)
- Open Access Journals in East Asian Studies
- Directory of full-text open journals in business research