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Lay of Land

The Open Access Model

"Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the interest and the consent of the author or copyright holder." (Suber, 2004). In this model, authors retain copyright to their scholarly works, but must bear more of the costs of disseminating it.

Open Access publishing was developed in response to spiraling journal subscription costs and the need for free and immediate access to research results in scientific, technical, and medical fields. The library community has embraced the open access concept through initiatives such as the Association of Research Library’s Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and support of repositories such as BioMed Central. (Banks, 2004).

More Resources about Open Access:

Open Access Business Models

OA literature publication costs shift from the user (subscriber) to the content producer (author). In other words, fees are charged for dissemination of the content, not access to it, as in the traditional subscription models (Hawkins, 2005).

There are two types of Open Access.

Gold OA Green OA
Fully accessible online journals   Repositories by discipline or institution that are freely available online
Typically peer reviewed Preprints or post prints of articles and other institutional documents; typically requires publisher permission
Fee model: Article processing fees Fee model: typically free to author


The Impact of OA on Authors

There are at least three questions you as an author need to ask when considering whether to publish in an OA journal or whether to publish in a toll access journal:

  • Does the journal in question carry sufficient weight in the tenure and review process within your field and institution? Talk to your advisor, department chair and senior colleagues; OA or toll, it's important to be sure that the journal will get you where you need to be.
  • Do you want to retain copyright control over your work? Most toll access publishers require that you sign over copyright to them when they publish your article. When you publish in OA journals, on the other hand, you typically retain copyright. You may be able to apply campus open access policies or request different author agreements with toll access publishers to make some version of your article freely available.
  • Are you willing (or able) to pay the page fees associated with open access publishing? These may range from $500 to $1,500 for each article; your library or institution may have a fund available to pay such charges, and for future publicaitons you may be able to write the cost into any grants you apply for.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be an "either-or" decision. You can choose a variety of publication avenues during your career. Just be clear about the benefits and drawbacks of each of the models available to you.
You also have several choices in the types of articles you can publish in scholarly journals. Let’s examine some of those options.