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Open Access Publishing

Open Access (OA) as defined by the Bethesda Statement is a publication model based on free and unrestricted access to scholarly research output that is archived in at least one online repository supported by an academic, scholarly, or government agency.

The traditional model of scholarly publication relies on publishers to facilitate the process of selection, peer review, editing, and dissemination. Libraries, in turn, purchase and provide access to these published books and journals. OA is an alternative publishing model that retains the selection, peer review, editing and dissemination, but makes the published work available for free to all users from the point of publication.  The costs of publishing are borne not by the readers but by the authors themselves, government grants, universities, and other agencies.  

Why might one want to publish open access?

  • Visibility: Open access allows anyone to access and read academic work without paying for subscriptions or fees on a publisher’s website. This means researchers who don't have access to large libraries are able to read and use these publications.
  • Less restrictions on use:  Open access publications often use Creative Commons licenses that allow your materials to be used for teaching or sharing without paying extra fees. 
  • Citation Rate: Some studies have shown that open access publications tend to receive more citations than subscription-based publications.  See:  Does open access publishing increase citation or download rates?
  • Compliance with research funder policies: Many funding agencies now require some kind of public access to research publications resulting from their grants. In the United States, National Institutes of Health funded projects have a public access policy (see: NIH Public Access Policy). Public access is required after 12 months, so this is not technically “open access” but embargoed public access.  

Why might one not want to publish open access?

  • Many high impact, high quality journals and monograph publishers still use a traditional model of publishing. 
  • Many of the fees to publish open access are very high. 

Open Access Journal Article Publishing

Open access journal article publishing has become fairly common.   There are two main OA publishing options that have been applied primarily to journal publishing:

  • Gold:  publish in a journal that will make your article open access immediately.
  • Green:  self archive your article to make it open access, while the "official" version of your article remains behind a paywall. 

The colors gold and green refer to the SHERPA RoMEO classification scheme for open access publishing and archiving options.

Gold: Publish in open access journals or journals with an open access option

OA journals or journals with an open access option provide a venue to publish your work that facilitates free and unfettered access immediately. There are multiple types of journals that allow open access:

1. Subsidized open access journals.  These are paid for by an organization and do not charge author fees to publish.  Examples: Advances in Social Work, Digital Humanities Quarterly, Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine

2. Author-pays open access journals.  Authors are charged fees to offset the costs of publishing.  Example: BioMed Central journals, PLoS journals, Taylor & Francis Open/Routledge Open journals

3. Hybrid journals.  Author-pays open access options exist in many traditional journals where authors can choose to publish open access or not. Most of the largest academic publishers allow this option. Examples: Elsevier Open Access Option, Oxford Open, Sage Choice, Springer Open, Taylor & Francis Open Select

Article Processing Fees for open access publishing are sometimes discounted for MSU authors. 

Green: Self-archive and make available open access copies of your work

Many publishers do not allow for Gold open access publishing, but do allow authors to self-publish a pre- or post-print copy of an article or book chapter in an institutional repository or individual web site.  To see if you are allowed to do this, you will need to pay attention to your author agreement with the publisher of your work.

What repositories are available to me for self-archiving?

  • You can self-archive your articles on your faculty or project website.
  • You can self-archive by submitting your article to a disciplinary repository. Examples of disciplinary repositories include ArXiv, bioRxiv, PubMed Central, Social Science Research Network
  • Some universities have institutional repositories that host self-archived materials. MSU does not currently have a repository for self-archiving, but if you have materials that you believe are an important part of the scholarly record and are not published elsewhere you should contact your subject librarian to talk about all available options. If you co-author an article with someone whose university does an institutional repository, you can self-archive your work there.

Embargoed public access journals

  • Some journals do not offer an immediate open access option to authors, but they do provide free access to all of their articles after an initial embargo period, usually of 1-2 years.  
  • Current journal issues still require a subscription to access
  • Authors may or may not be able to self-archive their work
  • Funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health require public access to articles after 1 year.  
  • Examples: many societies publishing on HighWire, Learned Publishing

Open Access Monograph Publishing

Open access monograph publishing is a growing trend as publishers experiment with models that might work for funding it.  There are more complications than for journal publishing as there is often more publisher involvement in monographic publishing than in journal publishing and each monograph is very costly to produce. 

  • University presses are experimenting with publishing some of their monographs electronically open access along with printed versions that are for sale.  Costs are shared among the author, the author's institution and library, and grants.  Examples are University of California's Luminos Press and Cornell Open from Cornell University Press.  
  • Some commercial publishers are offering options for authors to pay to publish book chapters open access (with similar charges as journal articles) or even entire books.  Examples are Brill and Springer Open

MSU is participating in TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem) and is providing grants to support open access publishing with participating university presses.