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Open Access

OA Myths

Q: Is it true that Open Access journals are built on a premise that they are “free”?
A: (MIT Libraries) "No. As others have briefly summarized this point: Open Access journals and articles are not “free” in the sense of “free lunch;” they do aim to be free, however, in the sense of “free speech.” Supporters of Open Access do not assume that documenting and providing access to research can be carried out without cost, but they do assume that research should be accessible to readers without barriers. So the costs involved in editing, refereeing, producing, and distributing a journal are expected to be managed through a business model other than payment for access to the content."

Q: Is it true that Open Access articles and journals are not peer-reviewed?
A: (MIT Libraries) "A journal’s economic or access policy does not determine its peer review policy. Most scholarly journals, whether open access or controlled-access journals, are peer-reviewed. There are both open and controlled journals that are not peer-reviewed."

Myth:  “Publishing my work open access is a nice, altruistic thing to do, but there is nothing in it for me.”
Truth: (Boston College Libraries) "Open access publishing does help address inequities in access to knowledge globally. Few people in the world have access to the resources we have here at Boston College. But, in addition, most studies show a clear citation advantage for open access publications. Open access publications are cited more often than those that are subscription-only and citation counts are still important factors in tenure and promotion decisions."

Myth: “Open access is creating lots of predatory publishers of questionable quality.”
Truth: (University of Minnesota Libraries) "There have always been vanity presses and publishers who are more interested in their bottom line than in upholding ideals of research and scholarship. Open access is simply one avenue along which questionable publishers have been evolving."

Myth: If I want to publish open access I have to submit my article to an open access journal.
Truth: (
Boston College Libraries) "You can submit and publish your article in any journal you like and still make it available open access in our research repository. You just need to plan for this in advance. You can send the article to [us] at the same time that you submit it to the journal of your choice, giving [us] the right to make it available (subject to an embargo period if you like).  Universities that have open access policies usually require this (with an opt-out safety valve for authors). Or you can, at the time of signing the publishers’ contract, submit a standard Addendum that reserves to you the right to deposit your work."

Myth: If I try to retain some rights, publishers will think I am difficult and will not want to publish my work.
Truth (Boston College Libraries): "Publishers are very used to dealing with these requests at this point. Far from being unusual, the retention of rights by authors is becoming a mainstream choice. Faculty authors at Harvard, MIT, Stanford and the University of California all are required to put their publications in their institutional repositories. All NIH-funded articles must be made open access in PubMed. Approximately 60% of academic journals allow some form or open access archiving without any use of an addendum to the contract.  For a searchable database of publisher policies about copyright and archiving, explore the SHERPA/RoMEO site."

Q: Is it true that Open Access means an article is not copyrighted?
A: (MIT Libraries) "No. Choosing to publish through an open access channel does not mean the article is not copyrighted. The same options exist when publishing through an open access channel as when an article is published through a controlled-access (or traditional subscription) model: the author may in some cases be able to retain copyright, or may be required to grant the journal publisher copyright. But in either case, the article is still copyrighted, either by you or the publisher."