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Open Access

Author Rights

Know your rights as an author! In the traditional publishing agreement, all rights —including copyright — go to the journal, which might preclude you from incorporating sections of your article in later works, distributing the article to your class or colleagues, or posting it on your website.

The SPARC Author Addendum is a legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows you to keep key rights to your articles. The Author Addendum is a free resource developed by SPARC in partnership with Creative Commons and Science Commons, established non-profit organizations that offer a range of copyright options for many different creative endeavors.

Open Access publishers typically use a Creative Commons License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

If you have already published an article, SHERPA/ROMEO will allow you to research and determine a publisher's policy for self-archiving (Green OA).

See also Nancy Sims, "It’s all the same to me! Copyright, contracts, and publisher self-archiving policies," College & Research Libraries News (2015).

OA Publishing

In 2020 the OAPEN Foundation launched a new open access (OA) books toolkit for researchers and academic book authors. The toolkit is a free-to-access, stakeholder-agnostic resource that aims to help authors better understand OA for books, increase trust in OA book publishing, provide reliable and easy-to-find answers to questions from authors, and to provide guidance on the process of publishing an OA book.


As with toll access journals, it is always important to assess the quality of a journal or publisher before submitting an article for publication. The tenets in our Faculty Publishing Guide hold true for open access content as well.

Be mindful of predatory journal practices and if you are unsure of the quality of a journal, ask a librarian!

Assessing OA Quality

How do I assess quality in open access journals or publishers? (from UC Davis' Open Access guide, see also Boston College's Quality Indicators & Grand Valley State University's Open Access Journal Quality Indicators)

Like toll access journals, the quality of open access journals varies. 

In December 2013, DOAJ, OASPA, COPE, and WAME released the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, in order to identify criteria "that set apart legitimate journals and publishers from non-legitimate ones and to clarify that these principles form part of the criteria on which membership applications will be evaluated."

Here are some additional approaches to assessing quality, drawn from a variety of sources:

  1. Is the journal included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)?
  2. Is the publisher a member in the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), which has produced a code of conduct for OA publishers?
  3. Is the journal indexed in a major academic database, such as Web of Science or PubMed? (Special Libraries Association, n.d.)
  4. Does the publisher provide full, verifiable contact information, including address, on the journal site? Be cautious of those that provide only web contact forms. (Butler, 2013)
  5. Does the journal's editorial board include recognized experts with full affiliations? Contact some of them and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher. (Butler, 2013)
  6. Does the journal prominently display its policy for author fees? (Butler, 2013)
  7. Be wary of e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members. (Butler, 2013)
  8. What is the quality of the articles that the journal has published? Contact past authors to ask about their experiences. (Butler, 2013)
  9. Does the journal have a clearly described peer-review process? Verify any impact factor claims. (Butler, 2013)
  10. Does the publisher have an archiving or preservation policy? Examples of established archiving services include Portico or LOCKKS (Special Libraries Association, n.d.)


Butler, D. (2013). Investigating journals:  The dark side of publishing.  Nature, 495(7442).  Accessed September 23, 2013, from

Millard, W.B. (2013)  Some research wants to be free, some follows the money.  Annals of Emergency Medicine, 62(2), 14A-20A.  Accessed October 8, 2013, from

Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).  (2013, December 19).  Principles of transparency and best practice in scholarly publishing.  Accessed January 8, 2013, from

Special Libraries Association. (n.d.). Should I publish in, or be an editor for, and Open Access (OA) journal?: A brief guide.  Accessed September 23, 2013, from