Scholarly Communication F.A.Q.s

What is open access? Open access (OA) content is online, freely accessible, and has relatively few or no restrictions on reuse.

Why should I learn about open access? Open access journals and presses have become an established part of the scholarly communication landscape. Learning about OA will help you make informed choices about where to publish your work.

How do I make my work open access? Upload your work to an online repository, such as Columbia's Academic Commons (this is called Green OA). Repositories focus on enhancing discovery, ensuring preservation, and providing reports about the use of your work.

Post a copy of your work to your personal or institutional website.

Publish in an OA journal or with an OA press (this is called Gold OA).

Is open access compatible with copyright law? OA is compatible with copyright law and OA works are under copyright. Most OA journals and presses leave the copyright with the author or allow the author to retain significant rights to use the work. If you want to make your work OA by placing it in an online repository, make sure that you retain the right to do so in your publication agreement. See the Publication Agreements page on the Copyright Advisory Office website for more information.

Are there high-quality open access presses? Yes! Open access monographs are being published by Amherst College Press, Knowledge Unlatched, Lever Press, Open Book Publishers, Open Library for the Humanities, PSU Press Unlocked, University of Michigan Press, and others.

Are there high-quality open access journals? Yes. As with subscription-based journals, the success of OA journals depends upon a reputation for publishing quality works. The significant majority of open-access scholarly journals practice peer review, as do their subscription-based equivalents. In some fields, OA journals are among the most prestigious. For journals published in the global north, inclusion in the Directory of Open Access Journals is a good indicator of journal quality.

Will I have to pay an article-processing fee if I publish in an open access journal? Maybe. Though some of the more well-known OA journals (such as those from the Public Library of Science and BioMed Central) do charge fees, surveys show that the great majority of OA journals do not charge article-processing fees.

If I am subject to a fee, will I have to pay it from my personal funds? Most research grants will fund OA article-processing fees. Columbia authors without such funding may be eligible for a waiver from the journal.