If you are thinking of publishing your article in an open access model, there are usually two paths to choose from. One – you can publish in Green OA, which means adding the paper to a specially prepared repository (self-archiving). Two – you can choose the Gold OA model and submit your article to an OA journal, where it will be corrected, peer-reviewed then published. At this point I would like to briefly describe the process of submitting articles to OA journals for those who are considering just that option. It is a general description, and various steps may differ depending on the publisher and the journal.
Step 1: Author submits the paper
After submitting the paper, the Journal Editor checks if it fits within the scope of the journal. If it does, the JE decides, based on the merit of the paper, on its acceptance or rejection. If the JE preliminarily accepts the article, the author is informed about the JE’s decision and the article is sent to review.
Step 2: Peer-review
Usually the paper is sent to two or three reviewers, however there are different levels of peer-review. The most common one is single-blind review. The paper is evaluated by two reviewers and in case of disagreement in opinion, the paper is sent to a third reviewer. The waiting period for review may differ from journal to journal, but it is usually four weeks or more.
Step 3: Back to the Journal Editor
Having completed their assessment, the reviewers send the article with a list of comments to the Journal Editor. The JE can make a number of possible decisions: reject the article, ask the author to make minor changes, ask the author to make major changes or accept the paper as it is. After that, the article is sent back to the author who has around two weeks to make the changes. Authors usually list their answers in direct response to reviewers’ comments.
Step 4: Author returns the paper with corrections
At this point, the Journal Editor decides if the paper will be accepted for publication or not. Usually, in the case of minor changes, the JE checks the corrected manuscript (may ask authors for explanations) and decides. For major changes, the corrected version of manuscript is sent for reviewers’ approval and the reviewers decide. Generally the manuscript is corrected until the author and Journal Editor/reviewers agree on the final version.
Step 5: Plagiarism detection
When the final version of article is accepted both by author and the Journal Editor, the paper is checked for plagiarism. Papers are usually checked using special programs like Cross Check (iThneticate).
Step 6: Ready for publication
After these steps have been completed, the manuscript is sent for language and technical correction; then the paper is again sent back to the author for final approval. A green light from the author allows the article to go into production, which means preparing the final version of the paper for publication.
The entire process of submitting an article to an OA journal can take from two to four months, sometimes even longer. Of course, somewhere along the line the issue of formal agreements and contracts is raised. The conditions for publishing an article in a particular journal obviously depend on the agreement between the author and the publisher, and vary across publishing houses.
The above-mentioned steps of submitting an article to an OA journal are only a brief outline, and the process may vary at different points depending on the publisher. However, this process should follow, in general, more or less the same path. It is also worth noting that the submission of articles to OA journals is no different to that of ‘normal’ scientific journals.
When choosing a journal publisher, it is always worth keeping in mind that all of the above-mentioned steps, in one form or another, should be ensured and carried out. Peer-review, plagiarism detection, professional proofreading and the production system are all signs of the journal’s quality and attest to the credibility of the publisher.