07 Apr 2017
Scientific Research Assistance
Open Access Journals: A Great Option for Researchers
Open access is an increasingly popular topic in the scientific community, particularly since changes were made to the policies of the three federal granting agencies, stipulating that any articles stemming from funded research must be made available in open access for everyone to read. But did you know that there are two ways to publish an open-access article? And did you know that the green road to open access is the best option for researchers?
Open access is a worldwide movement that encourages researchers to make their papers available online for free and allow everyone to use it for any lawful purpose (Budapest Open Access Initiative, February 14, 2002.
In doing so, this movement promotes access to knowledge for the entire global community. It gives researchers a valuable alternative to commercial scientific publications that have tremendous control over what scientific information gets published—and that charge university libraries increasingly exorbitant subscription fees. (Read more about “The Oligarchy of Major Scholarly Publishers,” available in French only).
Open access journals make their articles available for free on the Internet, but most charge authors a publication fee to cover content management and publication costs. Unfortunately, some of these new “publishers” use the system as a profit-making scheme. They approach researchers, flatter them and offer them the opportunity to publish in their journal. But the truth is that these “predatory publishers” will post their papers without putting them through a proper peer review process.
The good news is that other open access journals, like PLoS One, enjoy a very good reputation. So, how can you assess the credibility of journals and recognize the predatory publications among them? Here’s what you should do:
- See if the journal is listed in Web of Science or Scopus. (For more information about these two databases, read “Analyzing and Assessing Research: Bibliometrics and its Drawbacks“;
- See if the journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals;
- Check out the publisher’s website. Be wary of sites that don’t provide much information or a clear editorial policy. You should also be suspicious if they promise to publish your article in record time;
- Apply the set of good practices presented in the article Pseudo‐Science Publishers: the Latest Pitfalls;
- When in doubt, talk to your institution’s librarians.
Dissemination methods: green road and gold road
Open access is often associated with free journals that are available online only and sometimes charge authors a considerable sum for having their work published. But that’s just one open access method. Called the “gold road” to open access, it refers to a model by which the publisher is responsible for making the paper freely accessible.
The other method for open access publishing involves self-archiving by the authors who deposit their papers to an institutional repository. This is called the green road to open access.
There are two ways of finding out which method a journal uses. First, you can check the journal’s website and try to find information on their sharing policies. The other method is to search the Sherpa/Romeo directory which contains the sharing policies of many scientific journals. If the information is not available, chances are that the journal does not permit open access in any way.
This table summarizes the differences between the gold and green roads to open access:
For some researchers, the green road to open access introduces unknown territory, particularly concerning the publication process. The infographic below was created by the management team at Espace ÉTS, the institutional repository at ÉTS. It outlines what authors need to do if they want to use the Green road to open access.
Journals of the Green road each have their own policies about self-archiving of papers in institutional repositories. Note that this information should be provided on the publisher’s website and the Sherpa/Romeo directory. Publishers usually indicate which version of the article may be self-archived and whether an embargo applies (for example, you may have to wait 12 months after the journal publication before you can make your paper available).
What version of my paper is allowed?
Here are the different versions of articles at the different stages in the scientific publishing process:
Many of the journals indexed by the Scopus and Web of Science databases subscribe to the green road to open access method. That’s why so many researchers naturally turn to these journals to publish their papers. In 2015 here at ÉTS, a large proportion of articles were published in green road to open access journals, even though the institution doesn’t have a guiding policy on submitting papers to journals that allow self-archiving by authors.
Open access and article impact
Several experts believe that the green road is the best means of sharing knowledge. First, it’s free for the author. Second, the article is available to a broader audience because the content of institutional repositories can be harvested by web search engines, and this in turn increases the chances that the article will be cited. Studies have shown that articles available in institutional repositories are generally cited more often than those that are not (Gargouri et al. 2010). Furthermore, three of the tips included in the article “10 Tips for Increasing the Visibility of Your Publications” are directly related to self-archiving (green road to open access).
Citations are used to assess the scientific impact of a researcher or scientific community. This impact is a central pillar of bibliometrics and research assessments.
For more information on this subject, read “Analyzing and Assessing Research: Bibliometrics and its Drawbacks.”
Articles that are available in institutional repositories are generally cited more often than those that are not.
For more information
Do you have questions about the information presented in this article? If so, talk to the librarians at your institution. If you are an ÉTS researcher, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Espace ÉTS, our institutional repository, to deposit your articles.
Held Barbosa De Souza
Held Barbosa de Souza is a librarian at ÉTS. She holds a master’s degree in Information Sciences from Université de Montréal, and the subject of her thesis was about the contribution of postdoctoral fellows to the advancement of knowledge.
Marie Stewart is a librarian at ÉTS, where she is responsible for Library Department communications and participates in the development of the Espace ÉTS portal and services related to copyright compliance and free access to research.