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The development of open access publishing is mainly hindered by human misunderstanding. Proven benefits alone are not enough to convince the masses, who believe that OA is somehow inferior to the subscription-based model of academic publishing. In reality, they are different in some aspects and similar in some. There is no hierarchy in the business models of journals.
OA and Subscription Differences
OA: Readers can access and read articles free of cost. This ensures a wider audience when compared to subscription journals. More readers = More citations.
Traditional: Only readers who pay subscription fees or are members of institutional libraries with a subscription can read the articles. This fee is often high in reputed journals, and many cannot afford it.
The author owns the copyrights for the OA publication under Creative Commons (CC) licenses. So readers can share, use, and build upon the work according to the CC license of the original work.
In traditional journals, the copyrights of the work are transferred to the publisher before publishing. Readers cannot use the original work in any form without permission from the journal.
Post-acceptance of the paper, OA journals charge authors a flat publication fee or article processing charge (APC), which is often covered by their funders or institutions. Traditional journals may charge a post-acceptance fee per page or color image.
The time between submission and publication is called “paper wait.” OA journals use speedy publication as one of their marketing efforts. A study shows that paper wait is more in subscription journals than in OA.
OA and Subscription Similarities
Both business models follow the same process when it comes to peer review, production, and publishing. The quality of these processes does not vary with the business model of the journal. The advent of the OA business model occurred much later than traditional academic publishing. This gave subscription journals more time to establish their reputation and significance. But in the past few decades, OA journals have begun to come on par with their traditional counterparts. OA journals also have impact factors just like subscription-based journals and are members of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and others.
What can you do about predatory journals?
Predatory journals have for long been using OA as bait to lure researchers to submit their manuscripts. They follow a pay-to-publish model and do not follow the standards they promise. Check out this blog to avoid such journals: https://enableoa.amnet.com/2021/08/05/how-to-verify-the-open-access-status-and-quality-of-a-journal/.
Two points keep authors second-guessing when they choose OA: one is the alarming increase of predatory journals and the other is the reputation of the journals that commercial publishers take pride in. Only when people realize that OA publishing is simply another business model with more benefits, can we make open research a reality.
Amnet, in partnership with the Coko Foundation, offers next-generation OA publishing solutions that promise to optimize publishing, extend reach, and facilitate better knowledge sharing and collaboration.
4. Björk, B. C., and D. Solomon. 2012. “Open Access versus Subscription Journals: A Comparison of Scientific Impact. BMC Med 10, no. 73. https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-10-73.