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Open Access Publishing

Lightly adapted from the Open Access Publishing guide, by Larissa Gordon:

Open Access Myths

OA journals are of poorer quality than traditional subscription-based journals.

  • Studies show that OA journals can be of the same quality, or even higher quality, than some subscription journals.
  • The Directory of Open Access Journal's (DOAJ) Seal of Quality certifies a list of over 1,000 journals that have high publishing standards and adhere to publishing best practices.
  • With the increase in OA publication, additional ways of measuring quality, such as article-level metrics, are becoming more popular, and the more traditional journal impact factor continues to receive criticism from the scholarly community.


The peer-review process is not as rigorous in OA journals as it is for subscription journals.


Publishing my work OA is an altruistic thing to do, but there is no benefit for me.

  • OA publications do have economic and social benefits, but they also have academic benefits for individual authors.
  • Multiple studies have shown increases in article-level metrics for open access articles, such as citation count, article download, and share rate.


Publishing in a subscription journal closes the door on making the same work OA.

  • Authors can ask the journal they are publishing with to let them retain the right to post a version of their article in a subject or institutional repository.
  • ​Many journals have also developed policies which allow authors to make their work open access in a digital repository after a specified embargo period.


If I want to publish OA, I will have to pay the Author Processing Charges (APCs) myself.

  • Many OA journals are supported by society, or outside funders and do not charge any APCs. Check out the DOAJ's list of journals that do not charge APCs.
  • In addition, when APCs are required to publish in a journal, many institutions, including Harvard, also offer financial assistance with APCs through the HOPE Fund. Grant funding can also often be used to pay journal APCs.


Publishing my article open access in a journal means that I will automatically comply with my funder’s OA policy.

  • Some funders, such as the NIH, require that authors submit articles that have been written with grant funds to a proprietary OA repository (for the NIH, that would be PubMed Central).​


OA publications will not count towards promotion and tenure.

  • If an article is published in an OA journal with a good reputation and peer review process, there is no good reason why it would not count for promotion or tenure. 
  • However, there is still much that P&T committees can do to fully support the open access movement and encourage faculty to submit to these publications.
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