by Cheryl Truesdell
This is part two of a four-part series on Open Access. Open access seeks to provide scholarly literature online, free of charge, and free of most copyright restrictions. This month we look at Open Access journals.
Open Access provided through journal publishers is called Gold Open Access. The goal of Gold Open Access is to provide scholarly, peer-reviewed articles that are available to the reader online, free of charge, and free of legal barriers, such as copyright or license restrictions. There are categories of Gold Open Access depending upon the level of openness achieved by the journal:
Since 2000, OA journal publishing has increased significantly; by 2009 the share of articles in OA journals of all peer-reviewed journals reached 8%. (Suber, Peter. (2004) Open Access Overview. (last updated March 2012) http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm)
Before the World Wide Web, the best way to disseminate research was though print journals sold on subscription primarily to academic libraries. Costs for non-OA journal publishers include the costs of restricting access through subscription tracking, collecting fees, negotiating site licenses, authenticating uses, blocking access to non-users, creating and enforcing restrictive licenses, and marketing to maintain or increase subscriptions.
This closed access system meant that readership of scholarly articles was limited to institutions that could afford to subscribe to the journal or provided good interlibrary loan services.
The Internet made it possible and desirable to disseminate scholarship through low-cost models of production and distribution with the major online-only costs being copy-editing, online hosting, and maintenance of a system for high-quality peer review. OA publishers are able to keep costs low because they don’t have to pay to restrict access through subscription-based pricing.
While free to the user, OA journals are not cost-free to the publisher. There are still costs involved in publishing an online journal.
There are now more than 6,000 OA journals covering all subject areas and disciplines. An excellent source for identifying OA journals is the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) which aims to be comprehensive and cover all OA scientific and scholarly journals that use a quality control system to guarantee content (peer-review).