Writing a journal article

Open access

For many journals, you need a subscription to read the articles. This costs money, and it is one of the key reasons why people in poor countries do not have very good access to primary scientific literature.

In an effort to make scientific literature available more widely, an increasing number of journals offers an ‘open access’ option, and some journals are entirely open access. Both typically require the author to pay money (out of research grants, typically) when a paper is accepted for publication. However, both types of model typically also have an option that stipulates that if you truly cannot afford the so-called page charges, they will still take your paper.

Some people have speculated that making your paper open access might increase your citation rates. Whether that’s true or not, it is certainly easier to access a paper if it is open access. I suggest whether you choose an open access journal or not should depend on who you think your main audience is (and hence what the benefits of open access are), and whether you can find a journal that has a good reputation and is open access in your field. My personal view is this: If you have two equally prestigious journals, one allows you to make your paper open access while the other does not, and you have funds to pay for this – then you may as well make your paper open access because you have nothing to lose, and you might gain extra readers. If your work is directly relevant to poor countries or to institutions who typically do not have access to journals (e.g. in the business sector), you might place an even higher priority on publishing your work open access.

Also see other entries under THE PROCESS OF PUBLISHING.


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