Open Access is a movement and a publishing model, which redefines, step by step, the current paradigm of the transmission of scientific knowledge. Despite the fact that OA is growing very fast, many scientists are still quite reluctant to publish in this model. Many controversies and myths have arisen around the OA, as well as misunderstandings. Despite the efforts of the OA advocates, there are still questions being asked about efficiency and cost of OA. That is why I prepared a list of five truths about publishing in OA (of course, this list does not exhaust the topic of OA publishing). Note: this list concerns Gold OA and thus it concerns publishing articles in OA journals and publishing OA books/monographs.
1. You have to cover APCs for publishing in OA. But do not worry, there is help
This is one of the most discussed issues and very often is the primary explanation for the reluctance of authors to publish in Gold OA. Yes, it is true, that if your paper is accepted for publication you may have to cover APCs. This is the foundation of this model. In order to provide the reader with free access to your article, someone has to pay for it. But that does not of course mean that you will have to pay for it out of your pocket. First of all, not all OA journals are going to charge you. In fact, almost 70% of them do not want your money. Others have a policy of low fees which are affordable to the authors. However, if at some point you will have to, or want to publish in an OA journal that charges fees, don’t worry. Just look around. Right now, research institutions and universities are introducing special OA policies and funds for their scholars in order to cover APCs. Contact your university and ask about this, perhaps there are funds for OA publishing waiting for you.
2. Publishing in OA can help you to gain higher citation levels
Citations, visibility and Impact Factor are very important for every scholar. Everyone wants to be read and recognized by their peers. The Impact Factor, resulting from publishing in prestigious journals, still determines the development of scientific careers. Publishing in Open Access can help you with this. According to many reports and research, OA improves the visibility of articles and may result in higher level of citations (see: “The citation advantage of open access articles” by Michael Norris). This is a result of greater access to research papers and the use of the Internet as a platform for dissemination. What is more, many OA journals in the last few years have gained Impact Factors. Open Access is not for those for whom articles were rejected somewhere else, but is a good alternative to “traditional” journals.
3. Scientific quality and value of the article will be verified
Open Access journal is not a dustbin for articles that have no scientific value, with results that have not been verified. Reliable OA journals will not publish anything just to collect APCs. OA journals have regular editorial boards and articles are peer-reviewed by fellow scientists who are specialists in a particular field. The quality and standards of many OA journals are no different from that of most traditional journals.
4. Choose wisely. Not every OA journal is worth to publish in it
As in any field, also in scientific publishing there is no shortage of frauds or suspicious activities. Especially since scientific publishing can be a very lucrative business. So it is always worth considering carefully choosing the journal, by checking opinions and reputation. As a first step, it is a good idea to look through the list of predatory OA publishers, which is compiled by Dr. Beall. Another good tip when choosing a journal may be to use the new selection criteria for journals recently introduced by DOAJ.
5. OA gives you greater control over your own work
Publishing in OA has a lot of advantages and one of them is greater control over your own work. After publishing your paper in this model you can promote your research more effectively, using, for example, social media. Because your work is freely available for any reader you can share it with whomever you choose. You do not have to worry that it will only be read by those who can afford to do so. Very often, you can also choose a license model. Because OA journals take various forms and have different policies, you have more choice and more influence on the fate of your scientific paper.