Are open access journals good quality?
Common open access questions and myths explained
Open access – the different types and trends, is one of the most widely discussed topics in scholarly publishing today. It’s also one of the most misunderstood, surrounded by a host of questions and myths. Publishing open access can have many benefits, including enabling your valuable research to reach a wider audience and have greater impact.
In this blog series we provide straightforward answers to help you get to grips with open access and what it means for you and your work. In this post, you’ll learn:
- What makes a good quality open access journal
- Tools you can use to spot fraudulent journals
- Key questions and metrics to consider when assessing the quality of an open access journal
For more guidance and support on publishing open access visit our open access guide. You can also sign up to our Open Access Bulletin for the latest news from the Taylor & Francis open research program.
Open access and peer review
Good quality open access journals have a rigorous peer review process. This means that an article’s quality, validity, and relevance has been assessed by independent peers within the field. Taylor & Francis journals are peer reviewed, and the same goes for all reputable publishers.
What are the benefits of open access journals?
Open access journals come with many benefits. An obvious one is that research published open access is available for anyone to read, anywhere, forever. This allows for exciting opportunities for your work to be read and used by others, even by those outside academia (like policymakers or journalists). Read how author Cicely Marston got people talking about her open access research far and wide:
“The paper quickly received attention in international online and print media, and was picked up by Vice a few months later.”
Many funders and institutions now ask their researchers to publish in open access journals, so a journal’s open access options will be an important deciding factor when choosing a home for your research.
Are open access journals reliable?
The myth that open access journals aren’t good quality (or less good than their subscription counterparts) is perhaps down to the emergence of ‘predatory’ or fraudulent journals. These are journals which do not provide the same quality assurance and services delivered by a reputable journal.
Use the Think.Check.Submit checklist to make an informed choice about where you publish. The checklist includes ways to evaluate the credentials of any title and the society or publisher behind it. You can also find a list of all of our open access journals here which are peer reviewed by subject area experts.
Quality open access publishing
Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) are organizations focused on upholding the highest standards and quality of open access scholarly publishing. Working with open access publishers and journals they promote best practice across the industry.
Their ‘Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing’ are a set of criteria used to assess journals or publishers. It’s a useful list of the indicators to look out for when assessing the quality of an open access journal. For example, reliable open access journals will have:
- an editorial board or ‘governing body’
- a clear policy on conflicts of interest
- a peer review process
We’re proud to be an open access publisher member of both OASPA and DOAJ. Listen to our interview with Claire Redhead from OASPA in our 15-minute podcast to learn more about the future of open access.
Is a journal good? A rounded view
Whether open access journals are deemed good quality or not also depends on the measures and metrics you’re using to judge this. As with all journals (open access or not), there are quantitative measures (figures) and qualitative measures (e.g. opinions). These are all important in understanding impact and deciding if a journal is a good fit for your research. Alongside metrics, take a wider view of potential publications, asking questions such as:
- Is the editorial board well-respected in your research community?
- Does it have international readership?
- Do policymakers reference the journal?
When you publish open access, your work is available for anyone, anywhere to read. So, consider your wider research goals: the groups you want to engage with (e.g. medical practitioners or businesses), or the change in the world you want your research to make. Get inspiration on how your research could make a difference by listening to our podcast series: ‘How Researchers Changed the World’.