Overcoming the Challenges of Open Access Publishing

By Sean Graybill on Mar 9, 2021
eContent Pro

As an author, a major concern when publishing your research is ensuring that you are article receives increased visibility and discoverability. One key way to ensure that your article can be widely accessible is publishing under open access (OA). As you may know, many publishers are now enhancing their OA offerings. This includes Wiley recently converted many of their journals to OA; Elsevier acquired the major OA publisher Hindawi, and IGI Global converting 32 of their journals to OA. Each of these publishers is offering various benefits for publishing under OA, but when you are publishing under OA there are unique challenges for authors. To learn how to overcome these challenges and set your manuscript apart from the competition, hear from eContent Pro International’s expert editors on common advice when publishing under OA.

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What Is Open Access and the Types of OA?

“Open access (OA) refers to freely available, digital, online information. OA scholarly literature is free of charge and often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works, for both the users and the authors.” (Cornell University)

OA describes any number of publications, including journals and books, that provide the research contained within them at no cost to the reader. Essentially, when you publish under OA, your research is published under a CC BY license, enabling anyone to read, redistribute, adapt, and build upon the article as long as they cite it. This is a benefit to the author as their research is freely and immediately available to the entire academic community, versus traditional publishing methods where their research is blocked behind a paywall. Due to the ability to be able to freely share OA research, OA content has up to an 89% higher download rate, an increased citation impact, higher recognition, as well as an increased indexing potential.

There are various forms or model of OA access, in which research can be published this includes:

  • Green OA: This type of OA is when an article is published under the traditional publishing model, but researchers are able to share their article with their institution’s repository. Under this model, the publisher owns the copyright to the work, and authors are not allowed to freely share their research.
  • Hybrid OA: This model provides the authors with the option to publish their manuscript as OA or under standard/traditional model. If the author chooses OA, they will pay an article processing charge (APC) to cover the costs of publishing the research, and once published the article will become freely accessible. If the author chooses traditional publishing, the article will be behind a paywall.
  • Gold OA: This model is when a journal or a book is fully published under OA. This means that all articles and chapters published will be published under OA and be freely available to the academic community upon its’ release. Similar to the model above, all contributors will pay an article process charge (APC) that will cover the costs of publishing the research and the copyright will belong to the author.
  • Platinum/Diamond OA: This type of OA, describes OA journals that have received funding from a specific academic institution, societies, government grants, etc. to cover the cost of having the resource be published under OA. This means that contributors and authors that submit work to the journal and are accepted do not have to pay an APC to have their work published under OA.

The main benefit of utilizing OA publishing is avoiding a paywall in order to access the content within various journals and publications. However, publishers using this model do still have costs they have to pay when processing submissions and running their organizations. To help cover some of these costs, authors pay an Article Processing Charge (APC) when their work is submitted and accepted into an OA publication. This APC will go toward covering the costs of the entire publishing process (manuscript submission, peer review, copyediting, proofreading, online publication, print, and delivery, etc.).

What are the Challenges in Publishing Under Open Access (OA)?

However, before you even entertain paying an APC, your article needs to be accepted into an OA journal and due to the increased benefits of publishing under OA authors can face numerous challenges, including:

Increase Competition and Higher Rejection Rates:

OA journals statistically have a higher competition rate, as many authors seek to increase the visibility of their research. This coupled with the fact that many OA journals are featured in prestigious indices, including Web of Science and Scopus, OA journals can have up to an 80% rejection rate, making it difficult for authors to get their research published under OA.

Due to this increased competition, authors need to ensure that their article not only meets the publisher’s guidelines before submission but stands out from the competition in terms of quality and content. Due to this, it is pinnacle that authors utilize professional services, like eContent Pro International, to have their work professionally copyedited and even, reviewed by a qualified expert in their field to ensure that their manuscript has significance in the field.

Expedited Publishing Process and Review Times:

When a journal is published under OA, it is no longer published in a specific issue; therefore, accelerating the publishing process of manuscripts. Although this is great for the author to ensure that their research is published in a timely fashion, it can also make it difficult for them to meet the deadlines and complete the revisions during the peer review process.

Additionally, although the publishing process is accelerated many authors can still face the “endless peer review queue” where they receive continually revisions from reviewers, just to be faced with a rejection from the editor.

Article Process Charges and Funding:

Once work is submitted and accepted into an OA publication, authors will need to pay an OA APC. As stated above, this OA APC covers the cost of all the resources utilized by the publisher to publish your article. This includes:

  • Digital tools used to support the manuscript management and review process.
  • Typesetting, formatting, and layout
  • Online hosting
  • Submission of the journal’s content to numerous abstracts, directories, and indexes
  • Third-party software (e.g. plagiarism checks)
  • Editorial support such as manuscript tracking, communications, submission guideline checks, and communications with authors and reviewers.
  • All promotional support and activities include metadata distribution, press releases, promotional communications, web content, ads, flyers, brochures, postcards, etc. for the journal and its published contents.
  • And more.

OA APCs can vary based on publisher and be between US$ 700-US$ 10,000 based on the journal’s prestige. If the author does not have funding to publish under OA, this can cause issues on enabling researchers the ability to publish under OA.

How to Overcome the Challenges in Publishing Under OA

Although there are many benefits from publishing under OA, the challenges listed above can hinder many researchers. One of the best ways to overcome the challenges is to have your work professionally copyedited and proofread, as well as scientifically reviewed before it is submitted. Through having your work copyedited and reviewed increases the chance of conditional acceptance into an OA journal, the endless peer review process, and streamlining your publishing process.

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