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Before You Start Your Research: Open Access

Learn about how to publish in a scholarly journal
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Why publish OA?

OA is a new 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

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:

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.

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.