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Syracuse University Libraries

Research Metrics: Open Access

Helping the researcher to navigate metrics

Open Access Publishing

Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results -- to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives. Source and to read more: Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Open Access

Benefits of Publishing Your Work in Open Access Venues:

  • increased visibility, usage, and impact of your research
  • more efficient dissemination compared with traditional publishing models
  • retention of some or all of your copyrights
  • contribution to societal good by freely providing scholarly content to a global audience which will stimulate ideas, enrich education, and affect policy development
  • accelerates the pace of scientific discovery and research
  • rigor of traditional peer-review before publication
  • ongoing feedback through social media

Source: Open Access Journal Quality Indicators was developed by the Grand Valley State University Libraries modified from Beaubien, S., Eckard, M. (2014). Addressing Faculty Publishing Concerns with Open Access Journal Quality Indicators. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 2(2):eP1133.

There are two forms of Open Access (OA) publishing : Gold and Green. Gold OA gives authors options to publish their work in a traditional open access journal, a hybrid open access journal, or a delayed open access journal.

OA Journals

  • journal is established by digital commercial or nonprofit publishers, society, or library for the sole purpose of publishing open access content.
  • typically  utilize a Creative Commons Attribution License for publishing.
  • authors usually retain their copyright and grant rights of publication to the journal.
  • may be hybrid OA whereby only some of the articles published are OA.
  • may provide open access or free access after the lapse of an embargo period following the initial date of publication. Embargo periods vary from a few months to years. Ex. Journal Molecular Biology of the Cell (2 month embargo).
  • may be fully gold OA, which means that all articles are OA upon publication.
  • different funding strategies used to support the journal:
    • advertising
    • membership fees
    • article processing charges (money may come from the author or more likely the author's research grant)
      • can be waived in cases of financial hardship
    • subsidies from institutions such as universities, laboratories, research centers, libraries, foundations, museums or government agencies

Ex:  Journals published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS)


Upon publication, all articles are immediately OA.


Green OA allows authors to self-archive specific versions (for example: pre-print¹ or post-print² copies) of their works into institutional, preprint, or disciplinary repositories:

  • ability to deposit depends on publisher, contract, Open Access policies, and public access mandates and grant requirements.
  • institutional repositories like Syracuse University's SURFACE. Go to the SURFACE tab for step-by-step instructions on how to submit your work to SURFACE.
  • subject or discipline-specific repositories, e.g.
    • (Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics)
    • RePEc (Research Papers in Economics)
    • CORE (Humanities)
    • QDR (Qualitative Data)
    • CASELAW (Case Law)
  • author's Personal Websites

For tenure review purposes self-archiving is not considered a valid form of peer-review publication.

Although self-archiving copies of your work won't help you with tenure, there are still benefits:

  • increased visibility, exposure, usage and impact of your research
  • expanded readership of your work beyond subscribers to the journal in which the research is published

1. pre-print = the version of the article before the peer review process
2. post-print = the version of the article after the peer review process, with edits but lacking final formatting used in the journal

Source: Adapted from Vanderbilt University Libraries Open Access Research Guide

Evaluating OA Journal Quality

Positive Indicators
  • scope of the journal is well-defined and clearly stated
  • journal’s primary audience is researchers/practitioners
  • editor, editorial board are recognized experts in the field
  • journal is affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly society or academic institution
  • articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
  • any fees or charges for publishing in the journal are easily found on the journal web site and clearly explained
  • articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier, e.g., doi:10.1111/j.1742-9544.2011.00054.x)
  • journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of content at article level (e.g., Creative Commons CC BY license)
  • journal has an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number, e.g., 1234-5678)
  • publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) Review their:
  • journal is registered in UlrichsWeb (see library tools in next section)
  • journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals
  • journal is included in subject databases and/or indexes.
  • journal past issues are archived and accessible.
Negative Indicators
  • journal web site is difficult to locate or identify
  • publisher “About” information is absent on the journal’s web site
  • publisher direct marketing (i.e., spamming) or other advertising is obtrusive
  • instructions to authors information is not available
  • information on peer review and copyright is absent or unclear on the journal web site
  • journal scope statement is absent or extremely vague
  • no information is provided about the publisher, or the information provided does not clearly indicate a relationship to a mission to disseminate research content
  • repeat lead authors in same issue
  • publisher has a negative reputation (e.g., documented examples in Chronicle of Higher Education, list-servs, etc.)

Source: Open Access Journal Quality Indicators was developed by the Grand Valley State University Libraries modified from Beaubien, S., Eckard, M. (2014). Addressing Faculty Publishing Concerns with Open Access Journal Quality Indicators. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 2(2):eP1133.

For more information, please visit Quality Assessment and Open Access Journals


Tools to Determine Quality

There are several tools that authors can use in order to determine the quality of a journal for publishing. Those mentioned above have been added to this list below for ease of reference.

Library Resources:
Freely Available Web Resources:

Library Resources/Databases

Freely Available Web Resources

Copyright protection is provided by Title 17 of the U. S. Code to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, and is available to both published and unpublished works.

As a Copyright Owner You Have the Exclusive Right to Do and to Authorize Others to Do the Following:

  • reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
  • prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  • perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
  •  in the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission

According to current law, copyright protection for a published work will remain in effect for the life of the author plus seventy years. For more about copyright visit the U.S. Copyright Office.

The Dirty Secret of Journal Publishing:

This all sounds pretty great until you realize that many journals require you to transfer your copyright to the journal before publication. You are giving away your rights to your work so that the journal will publish it. It may not seem like a bad deal in the beginning because publishing your article is a priority, but you are giving up quite a bit when you transfer your copyright.

What You May be Confronted with After Transferring Your Copyright:
  • paying royalties to use your own work, such as fees for copies for teaching and conferences
  • republication of your work without your permission
  • reuse of the work without credit, acknowledgement, or payment to you
  • unable to post your article to your website or your university repository

This is a problem, but not an insurmountable one. When you reach the publication agreement stage of your journal publishing odyssey, it is time to negotiate.

Negotiating Publication Agreements

When you transfer copyright, it does not have to be an all or nothing deal. You can negotiate with the journal publisher to retain some of your rights, for example, the ability to reproduce or share your work. See Resources for Authors - SPARC.

Grants can have an impact on your publication agreement. Some grants, particularly federally funded ones, require you to submit a copy of your article to a repository.  For example, recipients of NIH grants are required by law to submit a copy of any of there publications to PubMed Central, an open access repository.  In order to comply with federal law you must ensure that any publication agreement that you sign does not prohibit you from depositing a copy of your work in an open access repository.

Making Changes to Your Publications Agreement

Below are examples of addenda that can be used to alter your publication agreement and a helpful website about negotiating copyright transfer agreements.

Researching Author's Rights

Publication agreements vary from publisher to publisher. Some require you to transfer copyright, some have a modified agreement that only requires you to transfer some of your copyright privileges, and there are some publishers that don't ask you to transfer any of your copyright privileges. 

SHERPA RoMEO is an excellent resource for researching a publisher's policies on copyright, self-archiving and compliance with grant funding requirement.

Thinking you may want to publish Open Access, but have some questions?

Contact your Subject Librarian or the SURFACE Team.

For further reading on topics in Open Access, visit the Open Access Research Guide.

Benefits of Publishing Open Access

diagram of benefits to publishing open access


Image illustrates the benefits of publishing in an Open Access model:

  • more exposure for your work
  • practitioners can apply your findings
  • higher citation rates
  • your research can influence policy
  • the public can access your findings
  • compliant with grant rules
  • taxpayers get value for money
  • researchers in developing countries can see your work