Skip to main content

Open Access: Publishing

This guide offers basic information on open access.

Publishing an article - the gold road

There are two main ways to publish in open access: the gold road and the green road.

In both cases, the peer review process is of particular importance in ensuring the quality of journal articles.

The gold road: The article is available free of charge on the journal’s website. The journal can be an open access journal or a subscription journal that makes some individual articles freely accessible to readers. Although this is often the case, open access journals do not always require a financial contribution from the author in order to publish the article. Several business models exist, yet the articles are always available free of charge to readers.

To find an open access journal, consult the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

Advantages of open access publication

For authors:

  • Meets the requirements of a growing number of founding agencies (including Canadian ones);
  • Offers greater visibility;
  • Augments the number of citations;
  • Provides an easy way to self-archive.

For institutions:

  • Ensures the archiving and dissemination of the institutions' scientific research output;
  • Raises their institutional profile and visibility.

For the scientific community:

  • Offers free access to academic publications;
  • Facilitates articles' retrieval, since open access publications can be searched by both common (Google Scholar) and specialized (OAIster) search engines;
  • Allows full text search in articles;
  • Promotes international cooperation;
  • Facilitates plagiarism detection.

Publishing an article - The Green road

There are two main ways to publish in open access: the gold road and the green road.

In both cases, the peer review process is of particular importance in ensuring the quality of journal articles.

The green road: The authors publish an article in an academic journal and self-archive a copy of the article in an open archive (ex.: arXiv.org) or institutional repository (PolyPublie). PolyPublie now includes scientific articles in addition to dissertations and theses. Authors must read their contracts to make sure the respective publisher allows self-archiving. Many publishers do allow archiving of peer-reviewed articles (the final manuscript or the version formatted by the publisher). Some articles can be archived only after the embargo period expires.

On publishers' websites, look for their policies on archiving in open access.

The Sherpa/Romeo website is a good starting point, because it includes a summary of archiving permissions and links to publishers' policies.

Protect yourselves as authors

Author addendum to publication agreement

Did you know that you can make changes to a contract you sign with a publisher? In order to do this, you can add an addendum to the publication agreement.

Here is an example: the SPARC Canadian Author Addendum, proposed by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL). This document was adapted from the U.S.' Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)'s addendum.

For more information on how to use it, consult the SPARC Canadian Author Addendum, to secure your rights as the author of a journal article.

Publishers with questionable credibility

Have you ever been approached by a journal wanting to publish your article in open access, subject to the payment of certain costs? Although there are many publishers that publish quality open-access journals, some take advantage of it by creating journals without scientific basis for their own gain. They are called predatory publishers.

Jeffrey Beall, an American librarian interested in open access, compiles a list of "questionable, scolarly open-access publishers", which is regularly updated. Click here to consult it.