Publishing open access: Factors to consider

Three factors to consider when weighing open access vs. subscription-based publishing are cost, speed, and visibility.

Cost

The article processing charge (APC) for legitimate OA journals are significant, widely ranging from $300-$3000 USD. This charge covers peer review-related costs and editorial staff, which is why the peer-review process generally has a quicker turnaround time than subscription-based journals. Some journals offer full or partial waivers to help authors who are unable to make this payment, or have institutional discounts for the APC.

Read all of the fine print if you want to consider publishing in an OA journal. Know all the fees upfront and make sure that you have funds for publication charges in your budget.

Ask the RRU Library about our open access author fund if you are considering publishing in a journal that is fully open access (i.e. gold OA).

Speed

The time between submission and publication is called the “paper wait”, and the OA format of publication usually has shorter paper wait times than subscription-based journals. There are no exact timeframes as this varies widely by publisher.  If speed of publication is important, you may want to consider OA publishing.

Visibility

Who do you want your research to reach? Who do you want engaging with your research?

Depending on your research and your goals you might want your research shared with a wide audience especially if you collaborate with people who may not otherwise have access to the research.

If cost is not an issue, you might want to consider OA publishing for two main reasons: high visibility and accessibility. Papers published in OA journals have higher views and download counts than those published in fee-based journals, according to a Nature  article summarizing several studies. Higher visibility may also lead to higher citation counts, and citation counts are one increasingly important measure of the impact of scholarly output. Higher citations counts also mean your h-index may increase, which is another consideration if h-index is an important metric to your research and your research discipline.  

Your research will also be accessible to anyone, anywhere. This can be very important, especially if you are aiming to reach people (e.g. research collaborators) developing countries that might not have access to funded libraries. Publishing OA removes the cost of access to readers, so depending on your goals for your research and field of study, it may be important for your work to be accessible to a wide audience, although it might not be as important for research that is read by a select group of research colleagues or collaborators or if your research area is highly specialized/technical.