Open access publishing is gaining popularity worldwide. Diffusing research findings in an open access journal offers many benefits to academic authors and institutions, which we will discuss in this article.

The pandemic has proved the importance of making research available for rapid innovation, especially in the medical field. Open access journals are now well respected among academics and quality scholarly publications are indexed by established publishing directories.

An academic open access journal is essentially a digital, peer-reviewed scholarly publication that offers free access for users to download research papers and share them within and beyond academia. Most open access journals use Creative Commons licenses, which allow sharing but will ask for attribution and might restrict modifications and commercialisation of the content. Some academic journals operate on a hybrid model, offering open access and traditional publication of research articles.

In the traditional journal publishing model, reading and downloading articles require a payment, unless a scholar can use a university or library subscription. Academic researchers and students affiliated to less affluent universities, and all those interested in a certain field of research could be hindered in their quest for knowledge by a paywall.

Open Access publishers recover the costs of processing and publishing a scholarly journal through an Article Processing Charge (APC), charged when the manuscript is accepted for publication. Gold open access means the article is always available free of charge, while the Green open access model allows scholars to self-archive earlier versions of their paper, or to self-archive the accepted version of their paper after an embargo period. The embargo period is typically six to twenty-four months after publi-cation.

Green open access papers use university repositories to diffuse their research findings, whereas Gold open access publications are typically distributed by large publishing houses. All titles published by Sciendo are Gold open access journals.

Some open access scholarly journals do not charge APCs if their costs are supported by an organisation or a funder.

Why choose an open access journal?

Aside being increasingly popular, open access journals offer many advantages to academic authors and institutions. These include:

  • Making academic research more accessible, thus boosting its dissemination and increasing its impact  in society and government (policy).
  • An increase in citations for authors as open access maximises exposure. Authors also retain copyright when publishing under a Creative Commons Licence.
  • Making research more democratic and inclusive – universities with less resources can access ground-breaking work.
  • Fostering interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration for academic journals that cross multiple disciplines.
  • Complying with major funding policies internationally.
  • Accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries by inspiring other researchers to contribute to new fields.
  • Rapid publication.
  • Institutions can enhance their profile by supporting open access initiatives.

The future of open access publishing

Open access journals are here to stay and more countries are embracing this model so crucial research can be accessed by everyone across the world. Academic authors whose field can have a societal impact are increasingly choosing open access – governments are becoming more concerned with fostering and supporting innovation to generate economic and societal benefits.

Last but not least, there are also cost savings and environmental advantages. Open access journals don’t require physical materials such as paper and inks, and services like logistics.

International entities such as the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and the European Commission, champion open access to scientific findings and endorse data-management standards known as FAIR (findable, accessi-ble, interoperable and reusable).

Find out more about Sciendo’s services for open access journals here.