Are open access journals good quality?

Is it easier to publish in open access journals? Do open access journals use peer review? Are open access journals reputable? These are just some of the many questions researchers have about open access publishing. To help you better understand open access journals, we’ve answered your most frequently asked questions in this blog. 

What is an open access journal?

Although open access publishing is more and more common in research, it’s still worth us revisiting exactly what an open access journal is.

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Essentially, open access (often shortened to OA) is the process of making published academic articles freely and permanently available online. Anyone, anywhere can read and build upon this research without needing a subscription. 

Most academic publishers now offer open access journals, as well as open access publishing options within subscription journals.

For more detail on exactly how open access works and how to publish open access with Taylor & Francis, why not look at our handy guide to open access

Top tips

Use Think. Check. Submit.  

Think. Check. Submit is a set of useful tools produced by a group of scholarly communications organizations. It helps to make the process of choosing the right journal for your work simpler and safer. The campaign empowers authors to evaluate the trustworthiness of a journal or its publisher by using simple checklists. 

Check Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)  

Both these organizations are focused on upholding the highest standards and quality of open access scholarly publishing. Working with open access publishers and journals they promote best practices 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 also a useful list of the indicators you should 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 members of both OASPA and DOAJ. You can listen to our open access interview with Claire Redhead from OASPA in our 15-minute podcast about the future of open access.

Is it easier to publish in open access journals?

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Publishing in an open access journal isn’t any easier or harder than a subscription journal – provided you’ve chosen a reputable publisher, as described above. The processes in place for publishing your work, in either case, are very similar.  

Any good quality open access journal will have a clear submission and peer review process in the same way that a subscription journal will. The only major differences will be that your published research is open access and that there will be an article publishing charge (APC) to pay. 

There’s more about the process of publishing open access in our guide

What are the benefits of open access journals?

Open access is great for readers because it gives them immediate access to the latest research. But what are the advantages of publishing open access for authors? 

  • Increase the visibility and readership of your research

    Research published open access is available to anyone across the globe, at any time. Greater visibility can result in increased readership and citations of your research. 

  • Demonstrate societal impact 

    There’s increasing pressure on researchers to show the societal impact of their research. Open access can help your work reach new readers, beyond those with easy access to a research library, such as policymakers, non-government agencies, the media, and educators. 

  • Freely share your work 

    With OA, you’re free to share your research around the world with no restrictions or paywall. Most open access articles have a Creative Commons license which explains how others can use and share the content. See our guide to copyright licenses for more information. 

  • Comply with funder mandates 

    An increasing number of authors are required to publish OA by their funder, institution, or employer. Find out about major funder mandates and policies around open access. 

Is there a difference between peer review in open access vs. peer review in traditional journals?

There are lots of different types of peer review. Many open access journals use the same peer review systems as more traditional subscription journals.  

However, other types of peer review – such as open peer review or post-publication peer review – are becoming more common. These newer types of peer review aren’t limited to open access journals, but are perhaps more often associated with them. 

Take a look at our peer review guide for more about the peer review process and the different types available.  

Is there a list of open access journals?

The best place to look for a list of open access journals is the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) – you can be confident that the journals they list are thoroughly vetted and high quality. 

You can also visit our open access cost finder to explore all the options for publishing open access in our journals. 

Where to next?

If you’ve found these tips helpful make sure you look at:

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