Open Access Publishing
You may publish your work with an open access publisher or choose to use a traditional publisher and make your work available via an open access repository. In either scenario you should be mindful of the quality of the publication and ensure that the publication agreement is fit for purpose.
Open access publishers
Open access is compatible with high-quality, high-impact, peer-reviewed publications with such titles already existing in most subject areas along with new emerging titles. There are a large number of fully open access publishers as well as many traditional publishers who produce open access publications alongside their commercial offerings.
Open access publishers and directories
- Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is an independent community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
- Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) aims to increase the discoverability of open access books. You can also browse the directory by publisher.
When deciding where to publish you will likely consider a range of factors including the publications reputation, visibility, impact, quality, turnaround time, and overall fit for your work. Visit our Where to publish page for further information.
While there are many high quality open access publishers, there are also some who engage in unprofessional or unethical practices - these are often referred to as predatory publishers. These publishers take advantage of the open access model by charging authors an article processing charge without providing peer review or editorial services. It is important to note that unethical and low quality publishers are not confined to open access but also exist in traditional publishing models.
Before submitting your work, visit Think Check Submit
The following indicators, developed by the Grand Valley State University Libraries, can also help you evaluate if an open access publication is reputable. Note that there is no single criterion that indicates whether or not a publication is reputable. Rather, look for a cumulative effect of more positives or more negatives.
- Scope of the journal is well-defined and clearly stated
- Journal’s primary audience is researchers/practitioners
- Editor, editorial board are recognized experts in the field
- Journal is affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly society or academic institution
- Articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
- Any fees or charges for publishing in the journal are easily found on the journal web site and clearly explained
- Articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier, e.g., doi:10.1111/j.1742-9544.2011.00054.x)
- Journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of content at article level (e.g., Creative Commons CC BY license)
- Journal has an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number, e.g., 1234-5678)
- Publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
- Journal is registered in UlrichsWeb, Global Serials Directory
- Journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals
- Journal is included in subject databases and/or indexes
- Journal web site is difficult to locate or identify
- Publisher “About” information is absent on the journal’s web site
- Publisher direct marketing (i.e., spamming) or other advertising is obtrusive
- Instructions to authors information is not available
- Information on peer review and copyright is absent or unclear on the journal web site
- Journal scope statement is absent or extremely vague
- No information is provided about the publisher, or the information provided does not clearly indicate a relationship to a mission to disseminate research content
- Repeat lead authors in same issue
- Publisher has a negative reputation (e.g., documented examples in Chronicle of Higher Education, list-servs, etc.)
Evaluating publications on an individual basis is preferable to relying on lists. Black lists can place undue suspicion on new publishers and publishers from developing countries, as well as being difficult to maintain. The most prominent black list was Beall’s list of potential, possible or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers. This was retired in 2017 and caution should be given to using archived versions of it due to lack of currency as well as the lack of transparency around the inclusion of publishers while it was active.
Both open access and traditional publishers will ask you to sign a publication agreement before publishing your work. The agreement will set out the terms under which the work is published and importantly it will dictate how you and others can use it.
As the author you will be the initial copyright owner, or in the case of multiple authors you will be joint copyright owners. This is according to the ownership principles set out in the University of Adelaide’s Intellectual Property Policy which states that the University does not claim copyright in scholarly works produced by staff. This mean that you may enter into a publication agreement without the authorisation of the University.
Publication agreements can manage copyright in three ways:
- Assignment - copyright ownership is transferred to the publisher and author has no rights.
- Exclusive licence – the right to exercise all copyright rights are transferred to the publisher with the author remaining the copyright owner in name only.
- Non-exclusive licence – copyright ownership remains with the author and the publisher is given the right to publish and distribute the work.
Traditionally, publishers have required authors for an assignment of copyright, whereas the norm in open access publishing is to use a non-exclusive licence. Before signing any agreement you should always ensure that it is fit for purpose and allows you to use the work the way you want. It is beneficial to inspect the agreement before submission.
Terms you should investigate in the publication agreement include:
Scope of rights granted to the publisher
- Is it an assignment, exclusive licence or non-exclusive licence?
- Does it cover all or only specified rights? Copyright is a bundle of rights and it is possible to assign/licence rights separately.
- What territory, language, and time period does it cover?
Right to make the work open access
- Does it allow you to self-archive a version of the work?
- Which version of the work are you able to make available? e.g. pre-print, post-print, published version.
- Where are you able to make the work available? e.g. institutional repository, discipline based repository, scholarly sharing network, personal or departmental website.
- When are you able to make the work available? e.g. before publication, on publication, 6 or 12 months after publication.
- What conditions are attached to making the work available? e.g. attribution/link to published version, specified licence or reuse conditions.
Other rights retained by the author
- Does it allow you to include the work in a thesis?
- Does it allow you to use the work for teaching purposes?
- Does it allow you to present the work at a conference?
- Does it allow you to reuse figures and graphs from the work?
- Does it allow you to adapt the work to book length?
- Does it allow you to include the work in a compilation?
- Does it allow you to distribute the work to colleagues?
Moral rights of the author
- Are your moral rights acknowledged?
- How will you be attributed?
- What action can you take if the publisher treats your work in a derogatory manner?
Reversion and termination
- Can you withdraw your work from the publication? This can be an issue with predatory publishers who only reveal their fees after acceptance and then do not allow works to be withdrawn.
- Is the agreement cancelled on rejection of the work?
- Can you claim your copyright back under any other circumstances? Monograph publication agreements should include a reasonable out or print clause that allows authors to regain copyright if the publisher is not exploiting their work.
Rights granted to users
- Will the work be released under a Creative Commons licence? This is most applicable to gold open access publications, particularly if you are paying an article processing charge.
- Do you get to choose which Creative Commons licence? Some publishers allow authors to select the licence while others specify one, this may be more permissive or restrictive then you want.
If the agreement does not meet your requirements then you can ask the publisher if they are willing to negotiate its terms, you can use an addendum, or you can try a different publisher.
An addendum is a legal instrument attached to the standard publication agreement which alters its terms. The following addendums have been developed for authors to use, they can also be repurposed to suit your needs:
Or you might wish to negotiate adding the following text to the publication agreement:
The Author has the right to publicly archive their revised, peer-reviewed personal version of their paper on their institutional website and their personal website, provided in all cases a link to the journal article on the Publisher website is included.
Good record keeping practices are important for you and the University and assists in provided long term access and preservation to your research. Make sure you keep a copy of the different versions of your work, e.g. pre, post and published version, along with the publication agreement and any addendums. Copyright lasts for a very long time and it might be difficult to predict how you will want to use your work in the future, you may need to refer to the agreement in 1, 5, 10 years or more. If a co-author has signed the agreement on your behalf then ask them for a copy at the time of publication.
You should also deposit your records in the University’s record management system, HPECM. If you do not have access to HPECM consider getting a licence or deposit records via your school office. For more information, visit Record Services.
While the publication agreement is an individual legal contract, most publishers also have broader policies around open access and sharing. Looking at the publisher policies is often a good way to quickly judge if they are the right fit for you. They are also useful if you have already published a work and cannot find your agreement or if the work was published before terms for open access and sharing were typically included in agreements, as long as the policy is being applied retroactively.
SHERPA RoMEO is a database of publisher open access policies that provides summaries of self-archiving permissions and conditions of rights given to authors on a journal-by-journal basis.