Skip to Main Content  

Before You Start Your Research: Open Access

Learn about how to publish in a scholarly journal

Why publish OA?

OA is a publishing model that provides free and unrestricted online access to scholarly publications and research data. This makes it easier to share your publications and collaborate with others. Certain granting agencies and funding sources require that you make your research accessible either through publishing in an open access journal or self-archiving in an open access repository.

  • Content can be obtained at no cost to readers and students
  • Greater access to and dissemination of research
  • Greater impact (citation counts, visibility) for research results
  • Greater control and flexibility over your own use of your intellectual property
  • Increased transparency and accountability
  • Shifts cost of publishing to authors or institutions
  • There are different degrees of openness
  • Need to critically appraise OA journals to ensure quality and peer review

What journal should I publish in?

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:

Can I get help paying OA related fees?

When choosing to publish in an OA journal, the author or institution may have to pay for publication. These can be referred to as article processing charges (APC) or author processing charges.

For a list of Publishers' paid open access options see SHERPA/RoMEO.

UHN Libraries do not have a fund for open access publishing fees. However author funds or publisher discount agreements may be available to help offset these costs depending on author affiliations.

For UHN affiliates

  • Longwoods: TeamUHN can publish Open Access in Longwoods journals with a 25% discount to the OA  publishing fee. The Longwoods Editorial Director will work with the lead author to ensure this discount is applied.

For University of Toronto affiliates

For York University affiliates

  • York University Libraries OA Author Fund
  • York University Libraries also maintain institutional memberships with major OA publishers in order to reduce the cost of Author Processing Fees in these journals, and to streamline the fee payment process.

For Toronto Metropolitan University affiliates

Some journal publishers may also have open access funding support services. For example, Springer Nature. When choosing a journal, you may wish to check their open access author information to see if they have any resources to help.

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. 

Predatory Journals and Quality Control

"Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices."

Grudniewicz A, Moher D, Cobey KD, Bryson GL, Cukier S, Allen K, et al. Predatory journals: no definition, no defence. Nature (London). 2019;576(7786):210-2..

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".

Resources to Avoid Predatory Publishers

  1. 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.
  2. You can refer to this handout from the University of Toronto, Identifying Deceptive Publishers: A Checklist (2018).
  3. The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) also has a handout on How to Assess a Journal (2017).
  4. Consult this systematic review from BMC Medicine on Checklists to Detect Potential Predatory Biomedical Journals (2020). 
  5. If still in doubt, contact your Information Specialist to help assess journal publishers.

Further Information

For further information on Open Access Publishing, please go to the Open Access 101 Guide

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. 

Budgeting for Open Access in Funding Applications

Charges for publishing articles, including costs of publishing in an open access journal, can be included in funding applications as costs of the dissemination of research results.

Charges for OA publishing vary. In order to estimate the costs for your budget, check SHERPA/RoMEO for a list of paid OA options, and also verify the article processing charge on a journal's website.

Open Access Town Hall

UHN held an informative Virtual Town Hall about Open Access Publishing featuring UHN experts in September 2023.

View the recording and consult the slides from the event. Resources are included in the slides.