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Open Access

A guide to open access publishing

Understanding Gold Open Access

Gold open access is delivered through publication by an open access publisher, as a journal article or a book. To subsidize publishing costs associated with peer review and printing, some journals may require payment from authors in the form of an article processing charge (APC). However, the majority of open access journals publish articles at no cost. The benefit of gold open access is the potential to share your research on a professional platform that is optimized to be discoverable and is displayed in the final published typeset. The transfer of cost to the author is the primary obstacle for researchers pursuing gold open access.

Article Processing Charges (APCs)

Open access publishing still requires finding ways to fund operating costs. Many journals are supported by an institution or sponsor, but the most well known method of support is through Article Processing Charges (APCs), modeled after traditional page charges. Rather than charging the reader or institutions to access content, publishers generate revenue by requiring authors to pay an APC, ranging from a few hundred dollars, to upward of $5,000 depending on the journal. However, most open access journals do not charge authors an APC or have a waiver option for those who cannot afford to pay. (Suber, 2006) (Crawford, 2015).

It's important to remember that charging authors to publish is not solely limited to open access publishing, and can include charges for color images, number of pages, or including supplementary material.

As many funding agencies require researchers to make their published work and accompanying data sets openly accessible, authors may receive financial assistance from the agency to cover APCs. SHERPA/JULIET provides the open access policy of various funding organizations.


Hybrid Open Access

Authors publishing in subscription journals may be offered the option to make only their article open access for a fee (usually through an article processing charge). This is referred to as "hybrid open access." Such practices raise concerns about publishers double-dipping, whereby libraries are charged a subscription cost for material that authors previously paid to be freely available online. Most subscription journal publishers have an open access option - check the journal's website for details.

Should you pay an APC?

There are many reasons why authors might choose to pay an APC, shown in the figure below: 



However, if it is not possible to pay an APC, there may be other ways to make your work freely available, depending on the author agreement or copyright transfer agreement of the publisher. See the section on Retaining Your Rights for more information.