Open access publishing

Why publish open access?

For several decades, the scientific community has been facing more and more disproportionate cost increases from many scholarly journals. The reasons for this so-called “serial crisis” are complex, but an essential factor is the quasi-monopoly of several publishers. Scientists, working in the environment of financially secure research institutes, often do not face the problem directly. However the visibility, re-use and impact of their scientific research suffer from the limitation of access by pay-walls. Through this lens, it is clear that open access to research results should be enforced.

There are various ways to provide open access to research online. Some scientists already make their publications accessible on their private web pages. This is a good first step. Several additional strategies offer a remedy for restricted access: 

Gold open access publishing

This is when the journal you publish in makes digital content freely available immediately upon publication. This can be done in two ways:

  • Full OA, which means that all of its articles are available online.
  • Hybrid OA, which means that some articles are made available while others are not. Open access journals generally publish your work under a copyright licence, rather than an assignment of copyright.

Publishing in an open access journal?

For a research publication, the most certain strategy for making work openly accessible is to publish in a peer-reviewed open access journal. An increasing number of initiatives like the Public Library of Science (PLoS) offer a system of charge-free access to publications and open licenses of content. Emerging costs have to be paid once by the author or, in most cases, by the author's employer. This so-called “gold open access” in return guarantees unlimited online access from anywhere to the original publication.    

Green open access publishing

This is when you continue to publish in traditional subscription-based journals, however the publisher allows you to deposit (self-archive) a digital copy of the article manuscript online. You will usually be allowed to deposit the author’s final manuscript in either a subject-based or institutional repository (e.g.  IIASA's Publications Repository PURE), or by posting the article to your personal website.

Archiving in a Repository?

Even if an article first appears in a journal or conference following the classic subscription model, there is - in most cases - still a chance to make a copy of it freely available. For this reason, different repositories for scientific works have been established over the years. Subject repositories, on the one hand, cover certain research areas, e.g. arXiv in the field of physics and mathematics. On the other hand, IIASA collects its researchers' publications in an institutional repository. The use of one does not preclude the use of the other.  Rather, using both increases visibility. Conventional publishers limit the republishing of works: however, preprints, postprints, working papers or technical reports are still often free of these restrictions. Even the original works can often be uploaded to a repository after a period of time, as the last submitted version. This depends on the policy of the publisher and the journal. 

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Last edited: 22 March 2016

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