WHERE CAN I GO TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OA?
Learn more by starting with the resources below or learn the basics on Wikipedia where you can find brief descriptions of the two main varieties of OA: Green and Gold OA publishing. Follow up with your subject librarian to learn what resources and support for OA exist at your institution.
WHY SHOULD SOMEONE PUBLISH IN AN OA JOURNAL?
OA lowers permission and price barriers between your research and potential readers, enabling access by researchers unlikely or unable to subscribe to a specialty publication and to teachers, journalists and the general public. Also, many studies demonstrate that OA literature receives more citations.
DOES THE JOURNAL I’M CONSIDERING MEET OA STANDARDS?
There are a plethora of OA journals of widely varying quality. Fortunately, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), a comprehensive source for OA journals, has developed quality control standards for inclusion. In addition, you can look for membership in the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) which has produced a code of conduct for OA publishers.
IS THE PUBLISHER REPUTABLE?
First, consider asking your library liaison or scholarly communications office. Second, Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, keeps an up-to-date list of questionable OA publishers and their journals. Beall identifies publishers operating in a suspicious manner and taking advantage of unknowing would-be-editors or authors, but some of his choices are controversial so check his comments for other viewpoints.
An OA journal that is included in a major index such as Web of Knowledge or Scopus (subscriptions required) has been critically reviewed and is likely a widely recognized and reputable OA journal. Google Scholar is comprehensive and free but its selection criteria are not published.
IS IT IN YOUR ACADEMIC DATABASE AND SEARCH ENGINE & IS IT ARCHIVED?
Certain research communities have major specialized academic databases and search engines which are used to search for literature. Determine what you use and check whether the OA journal is abstracted by it. Also, check to see if the journal is archived, or preserved for future use if the publisher ends its support or goes out of business. Portico and LOCKSS are the two most prominent archiving services and are good places to start your search.
CAN I SELF-ARCHIVE & WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS?
Publishers’ policies and conditions regarding self-archiving and other OA options can be confusing, but SHERPA RoMEO’s directory lays details out clearly. You may still need to contact the publisher and ask about specific details, but before doing so, visit Creative Commons to better understand copyright licensing practices and SPARC to learn more about your rights.
OTHER FACTORS TO CONSIDER?
The choice of whether or not to be an author or an editor for an OA journal can be difficult, so don’t stop with the list above. Ask your peers, subject librarian, community forums and social networks for advice as well.
A Guide to Open Access for Perplexed Researchers by Chris Erdmann and William Jacobs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
You may download a localizable copy of this guide here.