Open Access

Common Misconceptions about OA

OA is a scam! 

  • That's not true! OA journals are just as legitimate as non-OA journals, and many of the most renowned publications now have OA options.
  • There are predatory publishers out there, but just because a journal is OA, doesn’t mean that it is predatory or some other type of scam.
  • To learn more about predatory publishing and how to protect yourself, see the Predatory Publishing guide or contact your subject librarian.

OA journals just want my money! 

  • This misconception stems from Article Processing Charges (APCs), which are often a component of OA publishing. You'll sometimes hear these referred to as publishing fees or charges.
  • Since OA publishers do not charge the reader money to access the article, some OA journals do request a publishing fee to cover the costs of producing the journal. These fees can range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
  • If the research is being funded by a grant or some other outside source, the author may be able to request funds to cover OA publishing fees. Before paying out of pocket, discuss your options with your librarian.

OA means that my work is public domain. Anyone can use it without my permission.

  • OA is not the same thing as the public domain. "Public domain" refers to works that are no longer protected by any type of intellectual property law, such as copyright. 
  • If you publish in an OA journal, you maintain the copyright to your work.
  • OA actually allows authors more control over how their work is distributed by selecting the appropriate Creative Commons license for their needs.

Avoiding Predatory Publishers

Predatory publishers are a relatively new but quickly growing problem in academic publishing, particularly in the sciences. These unethical groups exploit researchers’ need to publish and the Open Access (OA) publishing model in order to make a profit, without providing the necessary peer-review and editorial processes of a legitimate journal.

There is no one agreed-upon definition of what makes a publisher predatory, but they often share certain characteristics. After collecting publishing fees (sometimes called “Article Processing Charges,” or APCs), predatory publishers often post articles on their website without any or sub-par peer review. Or, they may even never make the work available at all. They often go to great lengths to pretend that they operate a legitimate OA journal, including creating fake editorial boards and claiming to be indexed in major databases.

Once a predatory journal has put your work online, authors often have no recourse to remove their work from the journal’s website. That’s why it’s important to learn the warning signs and always investigate the legitimacy of a journal you suspect might be predatory.

Resources to Help