Open Access and Discoverability

Here, we explain different types of Open Access, how to refine your journal search by publishing model, how to know which type of Open Access model journals use, and any costs associated with publishing.

Depending on your personal preference or mandates from funders or institutions, you may be required to publish your work as Open Access (OA). If you wish to identify only Open Access journals and articles, you may consider filtering search results in databases such as our FSTA database or our Journal Recommendation Service, or through dedicated Open Access indexes, such as Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and Science Open.

The DOAJ is the most comprehensive database of Open Access journals, with over 12,000 journals and over 3.5 million articles, as of September 2019. The DOAJ has a high standard criteria to assess journals for inclusion in its database, and therefore it serves as a useful resource for helping identify potentially ‘predatory’ journals (which are addressed in detail later in a dedicated module of this guide).

Types of Publication and Open Access

Publishing an article is perhaps less simple a process than it seems. There are several stages that a paper goes through, which could be accessed by readers, and help influence the impact and presence of an article.

Here are some commonly used terms for each of these stages used by the scholarly publishing industry and academia, that will be helpful to familiarise yourself before you begin navigating different publisher platforms:

Document terminology

  • Pre-print – also known as a ‘pre-submission’, this is a format of distributing manuscripts early to receive feedback from peers, prior to formal peer review and journal publication.
  • Post-print – the version of a manuscript that has been revised and accepted following peer review. Also known as an Accepted Author Manuscript (AMM), Author Manuscript Online (AMO) or other variations on this theme.
  • Version of Record (VOR) – the final version of a manuscript, after peer review, incorporating any copyediting, typesetting and production processing by publishers.
  • ePrint – any digital version of a research document available online. ePrint can refer to pre-prints, post-prints and versions of record.

Access types

  • Closed Access/Toll Access/Subscription Journal – the traditional means of article and journal publication, where the reader (or usually an institutional library) pays a subscription for a full years’ access to journal content. Subscriptions to the journal may be as a physical subscription, digital-only or both. Subscription articles may also be accessed on a pay-per-article basis, rather than taking a full subscription to the entire journal. Many journals are reducing print copies; some are digital/online only, and some journals collate the full years’ worth of issues into one print volume per year.
  • Gold OA – This form of Open Access makes the final published Version of Record permanently, freely available, immediately upon publication by the publisher, at the point of publication (i.e. the journal itself, not in a repository). Gold Open Access frequently requires payment of an article processing charge (APC), which may be paid by authors or subsidised by a third party such as a funding council – however, payment is not a necessary characteristic of Gold Open Access, it simply means that the article is free for readers to access from the journal itself under a Creative Commons license.
  • Green OA – making a version of the manuscript freely available in a repository. An embargo period is usually set by the publisher, such as 6, 12 or even 24 months. No charges are paid.
  • Delayed Open Access - refers to scholarly articles in subscription journals made available openly on the web directly through the publisher at the expiry of a set embargo period.
  • Hybrid – a subscription journal which allows authors to make their papers Open Access. Typically a significantly higher price (relative to dedicated Gold OA journals), while others remain toll access.
  • Bronze OA – Articles marked as ‘Open Access’ without an explicitly stated Creative Commons license, and/or without charge of an APC to the author.
  • Gratis OA – This access refers to the publisher optionally making a paper free to read at no charge to the author – usually for marketing and promotional activities. The Gratis Open Access may not be permanent. Copyright/licencing is still determined by traditional formats. This is not ‘true’ Open Access.
  • Libre OA – This is a blanket term for ‘true’ Open Access; where the paper is made available under an open licence, allowing it to be shared and reused, depending on which licence is used.
  • Diamond OA – This refers to the form of Gold Open Access in which there is no author fees (APC). Funding for the journal publishing operations comes from alternate sources, and is not charged to the authors.

Copyright and Licensing

‘True’ Open Access is typically determined by the use of Creative Commons licenses, that give the author retention of rights of their work, and stipulate what the readers/users of the work are able to do with it in terms of legal re-use, sharing, repurposing, and remixing.

The most common licenses you will see at major publishers are likely to be:

  • CC BY 4.0 The most open form of license. This is the most effective for enabling others to read, download, copy, distribute, mine, crawl, print, remix, transform and build upon your material as long as they appropriately cite and credit your article as the original source.
  • CC BY-NC-ND The most restrictive of the main licenses. Users can download and share your article in its Version of Record form, as long as they credit you. The user is not permitted to change the document in any way, reuse portions of it, or repurpose it for commercial use.

Publisher policies

SHERPA RoMEO is an online resource that aggregates and analyses publisher Open Access policies from around the world and provides summaries of self-archiving permissions and conditions of rights given to authors on a journal-by-journal basis.

Article Processing Charges

There are a wide range of prices across journals that do charge an Article Processing Charge (commonly referred to as APC) for publishing Gold Open Access, from $0 to a current high of over $6000. Green Open Access does not typically come with a fee.

From the information held in DOAJ, the mean average APC charged by journals is $930, the modal average APC is $600, but these only apply to less than 30% of all the journals in the database. Around 70% of journals listed do not charge any fees to authors.

All good journals should make their article fees clearly available in their author guidelines, or dedicated Open Access information tabs.

Here are two example of publishers that provide helpfully transparent information about the prices for all their journals:

Plan S

You may be required to comply with the requirements of cOAlition S funding bodies, and publish your paper as an Open Access article in a journal which complies with the guidelines laid out in the Plan S documentation.

Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018. The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.

“All scholarly articles that result from research funded by members of cOAlition S must be openly available immediately upon publication without any embargo period.”  (Section 2. Plan S Compliance, Principles and Implementation, cOAlition S) 

There are three routes for being compliant with Plan S:

  • Publishing in a fully Open Access journal or platform.
  • Through Green Open Access repository route, and publication in a subscription journal
  • In a journal with a ‘transformative’ arrangement - a contracted commitment from a journal or publisher to change the publishing model from subscription-based reading to Gold Open Access, such as the Wiley Projekt Deal.
  Open Access publishing venues (journals or platforms) Subscription venues (repository route) Transition of subscription venues (transformative arrangements)
Route

Authors publish in an Open Access journal or on an Open Access platform.

Authors publish in a subscription journal and make either the final published version (Version of Record (VoR)) or the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) openly available in a repository.

Authors publish Open Access in a subscription journal under a transformative arrangement.

Funding

cOAlition S funders will financially support publication fees

cOAlition S funders will not financially support ‘hybrid’ Open Access publication fees in subscription venues.

cOAlition S funders can contribute financially to Open Access publishing under transformative arrangements.

Table of routes to compliance, taken from cOAlition S website. Date accessed 1st October 2019

A note on Predatory Publishing

We would like to acknowledge the damage that deceptive, predatory publishing has done to the reputation of legitimate Open Access publishing, and stress the value of choosing OA journals and open science practices to better the dissemination of research, facilitation of knowledge sharing across global scientific communities and the general population.

  • Open Access does not mean poor journal quality
  • Open Access does not mean a paper has not been peer reviewed
  • Open Access does not mean that authors have paid to publish without editorial or scientific scrutiny
  • Open Access does not always require payment from authors

It is unfortunate that predatory publishing has influenced negative attitudes towards Open Access. Refer to our Predatory Publishing module for detailed information on the phenomena and advice on how to tell a false journal from a real one.


Further resources you may find useful 

Pre-Print Servers

There are two dedicated subject area pre-print servers that may be useful to authors in the food sciences:

There are several non-specific pre-print servers that will host articles on any subject:

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