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Publishing Resources for STEM Authors: Open Access

A guide with resources to accompany the workshops on publishing for gradute students and post-doctoral researchers.

Introduction - Open Access

This page is devoted to Open Access publishing: what it is, why you should consider it, and what factors may affect your choices.

What is Open Access Publishing?

In its most basic sense, Open Access publishing (OA) refers to publishing to articles, books or other documents in some fashion that allows any user to access the full document without having to pay for it, either by individual purchase, or by having a subscription to the journal in which it appears. OA publishing ihas grown up along with electronic publishing on the Internet.

However, as the concept has devloped, different types of OA publishing have been defined, and additional concepts such as author's retention of rights and the ability of users to  adapt and reuse published materials have become attached to basic OA. Below are some definitions of terms you may see in connection with OA publishing.

  • Green Open Access - Broadly speaking, this is open access outside the traditional journal structure, for which the authors pay no publication fees  Green Open access services include:
    • Preprint servers - These provide access to author-deposited manuscripts, generally with no pre-publication peer review, and are generally subject oriented. See our Preprints page for more information and a listing of preprint servers by discipline.
    • Repositories - These hold author-deposited manuscripts or articles which have frequently (though not necessarily) been accepted for publication in scholarly journsl They may be associated with an institution (such as the University of California's eScholarship) or with a particular discipline (such as the National Institutes of Health 's PubMed Central). See the Repositories section below for more information and examples.
  • Gold Open Access - This term generally refers to conventional scholarly journals in which open access publishing is supported by author publication charges (APC), rather than by subscription.  The cost of APCs can vary widely from one journal to another, as well as exactly what open access features are available.
    • Fully Open Access - This means that all articles in each issue of the journal are open access.
    • Hybrid - These are journals in which each individual author decides whether the article will be published open access (with an APC) or be behind the paywall, meaning that a reader must have access to a subscription in order to read the articles. So, hybrid journals are supported by a mixture of APCs and subscription fees.
  • Platinum Open Access - This much more rarely used term refers to scholarly journals which are fully open access, but are funded by means other than APCs. Examples include Journal of the Electrochemical Society (supported by donations from academic institutions) and ACS Central Science (a highly selective journal supported by revenue from other ACS journals.)
  • Predatory Journals/predatory publishing - This term refers to journals with no scholarly credentials, created solely to leech APC money from authors desperate for a publication venue.  How to decide which journals are predatory, and who gets to decide have been matters of controversy. See this article for more discussion:  "Predatory journals: no definition, no defence", Nature 576, 210-212 (2019)
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) - DOAJ is a non-profit organization whose mission is "to increase the visibility, accessibility, reputation, usage and impact of quality, peer-reviewed, open access scholarly research journals globally, regardless of discipline, geography or language." DOAJ lists only fully open access journals according to their evaluation and standards. It is used as a standard for many funders to determine whether a journal qualifies as "open access".
  • Read and Publish agreements - These are a type of contract between publishers and research institutions that allows members of the institution to read all content covered by the  agreement, AND to publish articles in the publisher's journals with no APCs to the authors themselves.
  • Transformative agreements - "At its most fundamental, a contract is a transformative agreement if it seeks to shift the contracted payment from a library or group of libraries to a publisher away from subscription-based reading and towards open access publishing. Though there are many flavors of transformative agreements, the following attempts to offer a description of their core components." - From :Lisa Janicke Hinchcliffe, "Transformative Agreements: A Primer", The Scholarly Kitchen, Apr. 23, 2019,  Read and Publish agreements are a type of transformative agreement.

Open Access Options for UCSB Authors

  • UC Open Access Policies - UC policies govern Senate faculty members, non-Senate employees, and students (who have the right to make the final post peer review manuscripts of their published articles available to the public in an open access repository).UC campuses also provide open access to theses and dissertations by depositing them in eScholarship(UC’s open access repository and publishing platform) on behalf of their students.
  • Article Processing Charge Support - These are various ways of promoting the UC goal of immediate and open access to publications by UC authors. Initiatives include:
    • Publishing discounts negotiated by the California Digital Library.
    • UCSB Open Access Publishing Fund - Supported and administered by the UCSB Library, the Fund covers the cost of APCs in open access journals so that no UCSB author who desires to publish open access is disadvantaged by the lack of funds to cover relevant fees. 
    • MDPI
    • PeerJ
    • Transformative open access agreements including
      • Association of Computing Machinery (ACM)
      • Cambridge University Press
      • Journal of Medical Internet Research
      • Public Library of Science (PLOS)
      • Springer Nature
      • Wiley

Why Publish Open Access?

You many be required to.

  • Some institutions, including UCSB, requirefaculty, staff and stuents to deposit copies of their manuscripts or links to open access journal atricles, in an open access repositoriy. See the Mandates .
  • Some funding sources, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), require authors to deposit their articles in an open access repository. Some, such as the European governmental agencies that have signed on to Plan S, have even more stringent requirements. Again, see the Mandates section for more information.

It may be customary in your discipline.

  • In some fields, most imoratantly physics, almost all authors deposit their papers in a preprint server, like arXiv. Preprints are growing in importance in other fields as well. See the Prepints section to find if there is a preprint server for your discipline.

You can gain greater recognition for your research.

  • Papers that are not locked behind a paywall are more easily discoverable by the global research community" more views, more downloads, and, in turn, more citations, all other things being equal.

There are ethical reasons to publish open access.

  • Much scholarly research, especially from academic institutions, and especially in the sciences and enginnering, is publicly funded. Open access makes that research readily available to the general public whose taxes paid for the research.
  • It provides a degree of equalization between more and less wealthy nations, especially in the "global south".

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