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Academic Publishing: How It Works and Where You Fit

An introduction to the industry of academic publishing, how it came to be, and how it works now.

Open access - WikipediaExpand Access to Your Work

You can make your work open by either publishing in an open or hybrid journal or depositing a version of a published article in an open repository.

Make your work more available to more people through open access, either at the time of publishing or through self-archiving.

But First: Understanding Your Publisher and Funder Requirements

When considering whether to make your research openly available, keep in mind the stakeholders:

  1. The author(s)
  2. The funder (if applicable)
  3. The journal publisher

An author's desire to publish an article open or traditionally can be preempted by a funder policy requiring that the publication resulting from the funded work be made open, which is the case for all of the major federal agencies that fund research as well as a number of the independent nonprofits. Beyond that, however, is whether a publisher will even allow an article it publishes to be made available open access.

The tools below will help guide your understanding of what you can and have to do, and how to figure out what works.

FUNDERS: Mandates and Sharing Policies
What do you have to do?

If your research was funded by grants or other awards, your funder may require that you make the resulting publications open in some way. Check Sherpa Juliet or ROARMAP for funder policies overall, or the SPARC list for federal agency requirements.

JOURNALS: Publishing Agreements
What can you do?

Whether you can publish OA or deposit your work in a repository depends on your publishing agreement. Check Sherpa Romeo's publisher database below to find out what a journal's publishing agreement allows, and take this into account before you decide where to publish -- especially if your funder is requiring OA publication.

BOTH: Funder and Publisher Alignment
Making sure what you can do and what you have to do work together.

Publish Open Access

Journals that publish entirely OA are categorized as GOLD OA, and subscription journals that also publish open articles are considered HYBRID OA.

If your goal is to publish an article open access, you can do so in OA journals or through journals that publish both subscription and open articles. Both types of journal operate the same way traditional paywalled journals do, including rigorous peer review and editorial practices.

These tools with help you verify the credibility and publication practices of the open access journals in which you're interested.


OA Manuscript Matcher

Journal/Publisher Information

Open Access Publishers' Code of Conduct

Can You Trust It?: Credibility Assessment Tools

You may get an email from a journal claiming to be legitimate, with known names on its masthead, offering you the chance to publish your work with them for a small fee. If it feels fishy, investigate further! Once your work is published anywhere, even in an illegitimate journal, other publishers will not want to accept your article.

The credibility assessment tools listed here can help. For more information, visit Avoiding Predatory Journals.

Deposit Open Access

Depositing a version of your article in an open repository is referred to as GREEN OA.

To find a good repository for your work, search by subject or other requirements in the directories below.


General Directories

STEM Repositories

Open Up Your Work!

Expand access to your publications with Creative Commons licenses.

Creative Commons licenses were created as a way to give authors the ability to make their works accessible online beyond the restrictions of traditional copyright. Authors can assign a range of licenses depending on how they want their works to be accessed and/or reused.

If you want to publish an article in a journal, first ask How Open Is It?