This guide originally created by Kathy Wheeler. Updated by Amia Baker.
Open Access, at its most basic, means that access to online content is provided for free. Just because a journal is Open Access does not mean it is not a legitimate journal; Open Access just makes it easier for unscrupulous publishers to develop publications that do engage in predatory practices.
Models of Open Access
Gold Open Access: Publishing your work in an Open Access journal. Your work is on a publisher's website and access to the article is immediate.
Green Open Access: Self-archiving your work in a repository such as arXiv. Your actual article is still behind a paywall and only accessible by others if their institutions have subscriptions to the journal. Time delays may also apply.
Just because a journal is Open Access does not make it predatory; OA models have simply made it easier to engage in these types of practices. The fact that a journal charges author or processing fees is also not a good indication of lack of credibility. This is why developing the skills and tools to evaluate journals is so important. When evaluating a journal for its legitimacy, look for the following red flags:
Just as there are red flags to look out for when evaluating a journal, there are also signs that the publication you are looking at is legitimate:
The publication is included in reliable databases or indexes, such as EBSCO, Elsevier, Thomson Reuters, Scopus, Web of Science, or DOAJ.
Information about publication fees and copyright is easy to find and understand.
The articles are ones you would read or use in your own research, or they’ve have been cited by reputable scholars in your field.
Peer review practices are clearly described.
The editors provide policies for withdrawing, retracting, or removing a problematic article.
New journals should have a clear mission and specific, as well as the support of a reputable publisher or academic organization.