Scholarly Metrics

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What's Up with Open Access?

Many funders and institutions now require peer-reviewed journal articles to be published Open Access. What does that mean? The basic definition of Open Access is that a version of that journal article is freely available on the Web to readers. There can be other qualifiers about sharing, computing, reuse, and commercial reuse, but at its most basic, Open Access means a journal article is free to read, without a subscription being paid. (For more history and detail see the Budapest Open Access Initiative site.) 

Benefits of Open Access include:

  • Larger audience, including
    • researchers in developing countries and smaller institutions
    • taxpayers who support the funding agencies
    • general public for advocacy and policy work
  • Increased citations in some disciplines (see Tennant, et. al., 2016)

Because Open Access gives researchers without subscriptions to journals quick access (no need to wait for the library or a friend to obtain a copy), many hope that Open Access will speed up research. 

Most US federal funding agencies require open/public access to research articles they fund, including the NIHNASA, and the DOE. At many universities, faculty have agreed to make their research articles openly available. HarvardDukeMIT, and now Johns Hopkins have such Open Access Policies. But how does this really work?

As a researcher, you choose which journals to submit your manuscripts to. You should take into consideration your research audience, any institutional or funder requirements, and the scope and characteristics of the journal itself. Publishing in an Open Access journal means that readers don't need a subscription to read the article and that you're probably compliant with open/public access requirements. If you publish in a subscription journal, there are several options available to you:

  • You can probably pay an extra fee to make just your article openly available, while the rest of the journal requires a subscription to read. Be aware that these 'hybrid journals' may not fulfill some funder and institutional requirements.
  • You can check SHERPA/RoMEO or the journal website to see if submission of either the published article or the authors final manuscript (reviewed but not copy edited) is allowed to be made openly available.
  • Pay attention to date requirements from funders, institutions, and journals to be sure you're making files available at the proper time. 

Now that the high level summary is done, there are a few things you can do to help you publish openly. 

Step 1. For Hopkins Faculty: Meet the Open Access Policy Requirements

If you are full-time faculty, are the sole or corresponding author of a peer-reviewed journal article, and the article was published on or after 1 July 2018:

  • and the article is in an Open Access journal such as PLOS ONE or Sociological Science, you have nothing more to do. Your publication is in line with the Hopkins Open Access Policy. 
  • and a version of the article will be in an open repository such as PubMed CentralPAGES, or PubSpace, you have nothing more to do. Your publication is in line with the Hopkins Open Access Policy.
  • and the article was published in a hybrid journal and you paid to make it Open Access, you have nothing more to do. Your publication is in line with the Hopkins Open Access Policy.
  • and the article was published in a subscription journal, you should submit the author's final manuscript to PASS to meet the policy. You can see our FAQ for more details.

Step 2. For future publications, for all researchers

Please seriously consider publishing in an Open Access journal, to realize all the benefits listed above and to help move research forward more quickly. Below are some resources to help you locate reputable and appropriate Open Access journals. 

  • Use the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) to find reputable, scholarly journals in your discipline.
  • You can look up your research topic in Scopus or Web of Science, then narrow the results list to Open Access to see the Open Access journals your colleagues are publishing in. But double-check the titles in the DOAJ.
  • If there is no Open Access journal you wish to submit to, then make sure the journal you're interested in will let you place a version of your article in our repository by looking up the journal in SHERPA/RoMEO.

If you have follow-up questions about Open Access, finding journals, or the Open Access Policy, please contact your librarian or Scholarly Impact Services.