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Open Access 101: For Authors and Researchers

A guide for potential authors and researchers to introduce you to open access and how it may impact you.

Author Rights & Addendums

Authors hold the copyright on their works until they sign it over to a publisher. When signing a copyright transfer agreement form, authors can use the resources below to modify the agreement and retain certain rights to their work:  

SPARC Guide to Author Rights/SPARC Author Addendum - This guide by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition gives an introduction to author rights and provides a form that you can use to modify a publication agreement to retain more rights to your work. 

Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine - The Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine will help you generate a form that you can attach to a journal's copyright agreement to ensure that you retain certain rights. 

Predatory Journals and Quality Control

"Predatory open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit. That is to say, they operate as scholarly vanity presses and publish articles in exchange for the author fee. They are characterized by various level of deception and lack of transparency in their operations.  For example, some publishers may misrepresent their location, stating New York instead of Nigeria, or they may claim a stringent peer-review where none really exists."

 - Jeffrey Beall, quoted in Elliott, C. (2012, June 5). On Predatory Publishers a QA With Jeffrey Bealls. Retrieved December 06, 2016, from

When choosing to publish in OA journals, it is important to ensure that the journal you choose is a reputable scholarly journal and not one of the ones considered "predatory".

Steps to Avoid Predatory Publishers

  1. Use Declan Butler's Checklist to Identify Reputable Publishers (Butler, D. (2013, March 28). Investigating journals: The dark side of publishing. Nature, 495 (7442), 433-435. doi:10.1038/495433a)
  2. Or refer to the checklist available at Think. Check. Submit, a cross-industry initiative led by representatives from ALPSP, DOAJ, INASP, ISSN, LIBER, OASPA, STM, UKSG, and individual publishers.
  3. You can also refer to this handout from the University of Toronto, Identifying Deceptive Publishers: A Checklist (2018).
  4. If still in doubt, contact your Information Specialist to help assess journal publishers.

What repositories can I archive my manuscript in?

OpenDOAR is an authorative directory author's can use to find an academic online repository. The staff that run OpenDOAR check each repository on the list to check the information recorded in the directory. Authors can search for repositories or search the contents of different repositories. 

Here are some institutional repositories in Toronto to consider:

To find out whether a publisher or journal allows for self-archiving, take a look at SHERPA/RoMEO's Publisher Copyright Policies and Self Archiving page. 

Where should I publish?

The best place to find a reputable, peer-reviewed open access journal is through the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). This is a quality-controlled directory that journals have to apply to in order to be included on the list. The directory can be searched by subject, country, license, or publication charges. While this list is not exhaustive, it is the most comprehensive resource for find an open access journal. 

Some examples of open access publishers: