Open Access Journals

Around 87 journals are listed as having an Australian publisher  in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and 74 from New Zealand. In March 2015 the DOAJ announced a tightening up of its criteria for inclusion with a new form and  and in May 2016 a number of journals were removed from the list. This follows an initiative when a number of organisations, including DOAJ, produced a list of Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.

Many open access journals are created using the open source Open Journal Systems. The OJS website shows the Oceania region as hosting close to 1000 journals using the software. The National Library of Australia publishes many open access journals through its Open Publish program, which uses the Open Journals System.

Open access journals are often published through universities. Over 100 journals published by Australian universities are listed here. Generally these journals are supported by the institution and do not charge article processing fees.

What is ’hybrid’ open access

This generally refers to immediate open access to individual papers in subscription-based journals where the author (or the author’s institution) has paid a fee to have their particular article made freely available online while the remainder of the journal is only available by subscription.

The APCs charged by larger commercial journals for hybrid open access are considerably higher than the average, usually around USD3000 and sometimes USD5000. A graph mapping the APCs of hybrid and open access journals against journal impact factors is within Andrew Theo’s 2012 article “Gold open access: counting the costs”. It clearly demonstrates the higher APCs charged by hybrid journals.

Some open access advocates consider this business model to be ‘double-dipping’ from the limited pool of money available for scholarly communication.

Who pays article processing charges?

Not all open access journals charge APCs, and many will waive the fees for researchers who cannot afford them. A large study of APCs paid for over 100,000 open access articles published in 2010 showed the average cost to be USD$906. The same study showed that just over 26% of all DOAJ journals charged article processing charges. This means that in 2010 approximately 73% of open access journals did not. The DOAJ had a list of open access journals that do not charge APCs (which has not migrated to their new open source platform) – in July 2013 this listed 6423 journals out of a total of 9790 in the list, meaning 65% were not charging APCs then.

Researchers wanting to publish in an open access journal which does charge APCs may wish to consider including these fees in any grant proposals. Note that the 2012 ARC Discovery Grant funding rules allow 2% of the grant to be used for this purpose and the NHMRC allow researchers to request some of their grant be used for publication costs.

A 2012 study (in press) on institutional support for open access publishing found that only two universities in Australia have specific funds for article processing fees. Several institutions indicated they would be considering this issue. Researchers should check in advance to see what their institution’s policy is on the payment of article processing fees.

Which type of open access is best?

Currently, all three forms of open access co-exist.  Gold’ OA, which delivers free online access to the definitive version of research articles, is considered by many to be the ultimate objective. However, until there are high-status open access journals in all fields, this route cannot deliver 100% coverage of the literature. Many publishers are transitioning to new business models that include free access to readers. In the meantime, the green route to open access is a viable option for delivering open access without constraining the author’s choice of where to publish. The whole area of scholarly communication is being transformed by evolving technologies.

Page updated May 30, 2016.