An Overview of Open Access

By Kyle Kutz on Mar 7, 2019

As an early career researcher, it can be difficult to keep up with industry lingo – terms like ORCID iD, ISSN, and Open Access. What does it all mean?

Fortunately, we here at eContent Pro International® like to provide free nuggets of wisdom alongside our academic editing and publishing services.

Let’s take a moment to examine Open Access, an important platform for scientific authors to publish and increase the visibility of their work.

An Overview of Open Access

What Is Open Access?

Open Access refers to a specific type of publication that allows unlimited access to research output, such as journals, articles, and books, completely free of charge. That’s right. If it’s published Open Access, anybody and everybody—from relatives to coworkers to Jane Goodall—can view it online. This vast reach means Open Access content can garner some serious traffic while also being utilized, most notably, as an aid or reference by the academic community at large.

Common Forms of Open Access

Over the last several years, Open Access has transformed to allow a greater level of flexibility for both researchers and publishers alike. Here are some of the most common Open Access publishing models:

Gold Open Access – Gold Open Access makes the final version of a manuscript freely and permanently accessible for everyone immediately following publication. Copyright is retained by the author, and most permission barriers are removed. Gold Open Access also allows re-use of work as long as the authors are acknowledged and cited – they retain copyright.

Green Open Access – Green Open Access can vary from publisher to publisher. This model is also referred to as “self-archiving,” allowing authors to place a version of their manuscript—dependent on the funder or publisher—into a repository, making it freely accessible to everyone. Copyright for these manuscripts usually resides with the publisher, or society, affiliated with the source title, and there are some restrictions as to how this work can be used.

Hybrid Open Access – Hybrid Open Access allows authors to choose whether their manuscript is published as Open Access or as Standard Subscription-Based. If the author opts to publish their manuscript as Open Access, that author, or funding body, pays an Article Processing Charge (APC) in order to make the manuscript freely available online alongside subscription-based content. With this option, published manuscripts are accessible immediately without any embargo. Hybrid Open Access publishing has become extremely common.

Cost Expectancies

Since work published as Open Access is cost-free for users, in theory, submitting and publishing as Open Access should be cost-free for authors, too, right? Not quite. As mentioned briefly above, Article Processing Charges (APCs) must be administered for a publication/publisher to sustain itself. Publications, simply put, require funding to cover various steps in the publishing process. The absence of subscription-based revenue forces them to charge hundreds or thousands of dollars per submission in the form of APCs. However, these costs will sometimes be covered under research grants, supplied by—for example—the government, academic institutions, or learned societies. In some cases, authors experiencing severe financial limitations can even apply for a full or partial waiver of an APC, which is common among those based in developing countries.

“Pay-to-Play” Myth

While truly outlandish exceptions have been documented—a tale for another day—don’t expect sub-par drafts to be automatically greenlit for Open Access just because an APC has been paid. Researchers can’t fork over some exorbitant fee to slingshot their journal, article, or book into circulation. To expect such a practice to be standard just isn’t realistic. Also, researchers must be aware of any publications or publishers that promise expediting based on a processing fee, as this would be deemed an unethical practice and could put the author at risk of having their work published by a predatory publisher that operates under a “pay-to-play” model. Any credible journal, whether Open Access or Subscription-Based, should adhere to a robust peer review process. Open Access journals are merely striving to recoup the monetary resources involved (including use of technological resources, such as a manuscript submission system) through APCs.

Peer Review

What’s the best way to increase the odds of acceptance? Seek constructive criticism through peer review and professional editing services and make revisions whenever necessary. Sure, it’s not easy handing over countless hours, maybe even years, of hard work to be dissected and, in some cases, torn to shreds, but an outsider’s perspective can truly shine light on the shortcomings—as well as the strengths—found in any scholarly work.

Edit, Edit, Edit

Peer reviews focus on critiquing the overall body of research whereas editing services iron out grammar, citation, and/or style issues often overlooked by authors. Remember, no publisher takes a submission riddled with typographical mistakes seriously, even if the findings are top-notch. That’s why editorial services, such as eContent Pro International®, exist – to make publishing your manuscript that much easier.

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