Publishing open access

Last changed: 23 March 2021
Unlocked padlock, photo.

There are mainly two ways to publish your results open access (OA). Either by self-archiving or by publishing in an open access journal. These forms of publishing are often denoted “green” and “gold” open access.

Publishing in an open access journal (gold)

Open access publishers often charge a publication fee (APC). However, once published the paper is free to access for everyone. Additionally, authors normally do not need to sign over copyright to the publisher.

There are a great number of peer reviewed, scientific open access journals to publish with. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) indexes over 10, 000 peer-reviewed journals and can be used to find a suitable journal. As a researcher at SLU you can get discounts on publication fees for open access papers with several publishers.

Self-archiving (green)

Another way to achieve open access is to make your scholarly texts openly available by self-archiving, also known as the green road to OA or parallel publishing. Self-archiving means that upon publication in a traditional journal you also deposit a copy of your reviewed manuscript in an open access repository. This is done easily by registering your publication in SLUpub – just make sure to upload a copy of your paper and check the appropriate box in the form.

In most cases you are allowed to publish the accepted and peer-reviewed version of your manuscript. This version should be devoid of publisher logos, editing and pagination. You are often not allowed to publish the final publisher version or version of record. Accepted manuscripts can often be retrieved via the publishers journal submission system. The Open Access Button has developed guides on how to access your accepted manuscript through these systems. Check the journals terms for self-archiving via SHERPA/ROMEO.

If the publisher demand that the paper should be subjected to an embargo, you can still deposit it right away. Library staff will perform quality control and manage any eventual embargoes. Your text will not be made available online until the set time has elapsed.

Publishing Open Access in traditional subscription based journals (hybrid)

There is yet another way to publish open access called Hybrid Open Access. This means that you pay a fee in order to make your article available open access although it is included in a traditional subscription based journal. Many publisher use this model of OA in order to facilitate OA while still letting author publish with their preferred journal.

Predatory journals and publishers

Since open access journals cover their costs by charging publication fees, a number of questionable actors have appeared on the market. The business plan of these publishers is to publish anything and everything without performing necessary quality control or peer-review. Submitting papers to such publishers are disadvantageous to you as a researcher and hurts the scientific community.

In order to check the credibility of an open access journal determine if the journal is included in DOAJ is a member of OASPA or follows the guidelines on publishing ethics set up by COPE. Inclusion in any of these indexes or organizations can be considered as a guarantee of quality and trustworthiness. You can also visit for a detailed guide on how evaluate publisher trustworthiness.

The SLU-library also subscribes to a so-called blacklist – Cabells Blacklist – that can help you determine the quality of a journal.

Predatory publishers often send mass e-mails to large groups of researchers. They specifically target PhD students and researchers who have just finished their doctorate and are eager to be published. However, trustworthy publisher also communicate via e-mail so there is a need to separate the bad from the good. If you receive such an email, consider the points below in order to determine if it is the real deal:

  • Search the web. What do you find about the publisher? Any pages or blog posts with negative experiences?
  • What information is availabe on the publisher web site? Any contact information? Is it clear where the publisher is situated? Any information on the editorial board? Do you recognise any persons or departments who have previously published with this publisher?
  • How is the offer written? Bad English and spelling errors are warning signs, of course.
  • Talk to your colleagues – did any of them get the same offer to publish or be part of an editorial board?
  • If you do proceed with a less well-known publisher: make sure to read the license to publish with great care so that you are certain of what the terms are.

If you need advice, you are always welcome to contact the SLU University Library!