LIBRARY INSIDER: Getting started with open access publishing


There are many benefits of open access publishing, but because publishing itself is a complex process, it is important to understand the different opportunities for open access publishing.

Some scholarly journals make their content available only to those with a subscription. Open access journals make their content freely available to all readers, which has the benefit of increasing your research’s visibility and impact beyond academia. Your work could reach a larger network of readers, including but not limited to: policymakers, journalists, researchers from developing countries, and the public.

If you need another reason to get acquainted with open access, the recent White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) memo will have a significant effect in the coming years on federally funded research. This article outlines the key aspects of open access publishing to help you get started.

The first thing to know is that journals adhere to different open access publishing models. How you decide which model is best for you and your work depends on your publishing preferences and other outside factors, such as cost.

In the gold open access model, a journal makes your work freely available at the time of publication, but typically requires an article processing charge (APC) for which authors are responsible. If you plan on getting funding for your research and know ahead of time that you want to publish in a gold open access journal, you can include this APC cost in your grant application. There are also APC waivers and discounts available for authors affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh and who submit to participating journals. If you need some help finding gold open access journals, the Directory of Open Access Journals is a great resource for finding publications and information about them.

Another common publishing model is green open access, which does not have APCs. Articles are submitted to subscription-based journals that allow a version of the manuscript to be deposited into an open access repository. The version of your manuscript that is made available is usually the accepted, peer-reviewed copy that has not gone through the final stages of copyediting and formatting. D-Scholarship@Pitt, the University of Pittsburgh’s institutional repository, is an excellent choice for sharing these manuscripts. There are also subject-based repositories that you can find through the Registry of Open Access Repositories. Many subscription-based journals have policies that support green open access publishing. Check the journal’s website or look up publishers on Sherpa Romeo to learn more about their policies before submitting.

Keep in mind that open access publishing is not only for articles. Open access book publishing is a rapidly growing field and many disciplinary publishers and university presses are offering open access online options for their books. Other research outputs, such as datasets, preprints, protocols, and software can all be published or shared and made open as well. Besides giving your work even greater visibility, publishing these research outputs provides better transparency and allows others to verify your results or build upon your methods for use in other research projects. Many of these published works are also given DOI numbers and can then be cited more easily by others.

The Health Sciences Library System and the University Library System are offering classes during this year’s International Open Access Week from Oct. 24 to 30. Attend one or more of our sessions to get introduced to open access publishing or to further your knowledge:

Still have questions or would like to meet with a librarian to discuss your project? Reach out to your library anytime:

Stephen Gabrielson is the scholarly communication librarian at the Health Sciences Library System.