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Open Access

What is Open Access?

"Open access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions." - Peter Suber.  A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access.

Open access refers to freely available, digital, online information. Open access scholarly literature is free of charge and often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works, for both the users and the authors.

While OA is a newer form of scholarly publishing, many OA journals comply with well-established peer-review processes and maintain high publishing standards. For more information, see Peter Suber's Overview of Open Access.

Open Access 101

Open Access Explained!

Oakland University Support for Open Access / Article Processing Charges

There are several resources available to help OUWB authors pay for APCs (article processing charges) in open access journals.

Resources for Evaluating Journals & Publishers

The Open Access (OA) publishing model has paved the way for global scholarly communication in allowing free, unlimited access to research without the barriers of publisher paywalls. However, when selecting journals to publish in, be mindful of sham OA journals that only "exist for the sole purpose of profit, not the dissemination of high-quality research findings and furtherance of knowledge" (Berger & Cirasella, 2015). These are known as predatory publishers and could impact your scholarly reputation, promotion and tenure, and institution.

To protect yourself and your work, just remember to thoroughly check your journal before submitting an article for publication. You can use Cabell's as a starting place to check and see if your journal is on the whitelist (legitimate) or blacklist (predatory).

Here are a few criteria that indicate it is a good OA journal:

Indexed in bibliometric databases, such as PubMed, Web of Science, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and others. You can cross check where a journal is indexed using Ulrich's Periodical Directory.

Journal website is comprehensive and includes the following information:

  • Editorial board information including member affiliations and emails (geographic location should be very distributed)
  • Contact information including a mailing address that goes to a legit location; contact is not just a blank web form
  • Description of article review process including peer-review
  • No promises of instant or rapid publication
  • Article processing fee is transparent and only required after acceptance of an article

For a complete list of criteria to use in assessing the quality of journals, check out the Medical Library's Checklist for Assessing Journal Authenticity  and Think. Check. Submit, an online resource developed to raise awareness of predatory publishers and provide a means of assessing journal quality.

Salient Features of Potential Predatory Journals:

  • The scope of interest includes non-biomedical subjects alongside biomedical topics
  • The website contains spelling and grammar errors
  • Images are distorted/fuzzy, intended to look like something they are not, or which are unauthorized
  • The homepage language targets authors
  • The Index Copernicus Value [a bogus metric] is promoted on the website
  • Description of the manuscript handling process is lacking
  • Manuscripts are requested to be submitted via email
  • Rapid publication is promised
  • There is no retraction policy
  • Information on whether and how journal content will be digitally preserved is absent
  • The article processing/publication charge is very low (e.g., < $150 USD)
  • Journals claiming to be open access either retain copyright of published research or fail to mention copyright
  • The contact email address is non-professional and non-journal affiliated (e.g., or

Locating Open Access Journals & Books