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Scholarly Publishing: Gold Open Access (Publisher provides access)

Open Access Publishing

Photo: PLOS Blogs

Open access holds the promise of making scholarly articles freely available to everyone, regardless of affiliation, on the internet. Digital access is free to users with the cost being borne by authors, their sponsors, the society, or the library, while peer review and proper attribution of authorship are unchanged. A variety of income models income models are currently in use to support open-access journals. Recently, a few institutions have signed a compact to cover costs when authors lack other funding.

View a list of University of Iowa faculty publications in Open Access journals.

Embargo Periods

Some journals are becoming Open Access after an embargo of 6-24 months. These journals generally do not have APCs and are instead funded by the subscription for the most recent issues. These are not fully open access titles, but the less current content becomes freely available.

HighWire Press
HighWire Press is a division of the Stanford University Libraries, which produces the online versions of high-impact, peer-reviewed journals and other scholarly content. Many of their titles are freely available after an embargo period. Many titles are also free to developing economies.

Medieval Feminist Forum
Medieval Feminist Forum is a peer reviewed journal hosted by the University of Iowa Libraries. The current year is restricted to members of the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship. Older issues are completely free.

Predatory Open Access Journals

Photo credit: Ho, Ho

While Open Access publishing has advantages for scholarly communities, the model also presents opportunities for exploitation and deceit. Organizations claiming to run peer-reviewed, open access publications are sometimes fronts operated to collect production fees from authors (APCs), publishing work with little or no review. Additionally, there is debate around what constitutes a predatory journal, and this lends an element of subjectivity to their classification. The links below are good resources but should not be considered authoritative. When consulting them, it is important to complement their information with your own scrutiny. For assistance with this, contact the subject specialist librarians for your academic field.

How to Avoid Predatory Journals -- a Five-Point Plan by Jocalyn Clark. The BMJ (January 19, 2015)

CRS Standards Forum: Predatory Publishing and the ISSN Center’s Response by Annaliese Taylor. ALCTS news.

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz was a programmer and open culture activist who played foundational roles in the development of RSS, the Creative Commons organization, and Reddit, among other projects. At the age of 26 he took his own life after facing years of prosecution by the federal government for downloading large amounts of material from the article database JSTOR in an allegedly illegal fashion. The Internet's Own Boy is a documentary about his rich life and legacy, which shaped the internet and the Open Access movement into what they are, and a good introduction to what is at stake in debates on topics such as net neutrality, online privacy, and digital piracy.


Gold Open Access Models

Diamond Open Access - Free for Author, Free to Read

Under this model, neither author, nor reader has to pay for access to the journal's content. The costs of publication are absorbed by the publisher. This article discusses some reasons why a publisher may choose this model. 

APC Funded Open Access - Author Pays for Access

When it comes to gold open access, the article processing charge (APC) model is the most common. Here, the publisher makes content free for readers, but passes along the costs of publication to authors in the form of APCs. Authors must pay this fee before their articles are published. APCs can range anywhere from under $500 to several thousand dollars, for publication in a big-name journal. As you can see in the chart below, UI authors receive APC discounts from some publisher. The Office of the Provost and University Libraries also funds an Open Access Fund that can help authors recoup APC costs. 

Hybrid Open Access - Combining Free and Fee

Bowing to some of the pressures of open access publishing, certain publishers have made some of their journal content free and open while shielding other articles behind the subscription fees (usually the author has the choice to pay for his/her article to be OA). While having access to some information is better than nothing, this model is a complex one to manage. It is a challenge to librarians and to the public to know what is free and what is not. An article on the subject, from a publisher’s point of view, is Open Access, yes! Open Excess, no! (Blood, 2004, 103(9):3257).

Publishers with paid options for open access can be found on SHERPA's website.

OA Fee Publisher Discounts for UI Authors

Publisher Journals Included Discount on Open Access APC Discount Based On
American Chemical Society All 50% for ACS members; 25% for non-members Level of discount dependent upon individual ACS membership
BioMed Central All 15% Membership
Electrochemical Society


100% ECS Package subscription
National Academy of Sciences PNAS $350 PNAS subscription
Nature Publishing Group British Journal of Cancer $920 Site license to BJC
Oxford University Press Nucleic Acids Research 50% Membership to NAR
Oxford University Press Journal of Experimental Botany 100% JEB subscription
Biochemical Society (Portland Press) Biochemical Journal; Biochemical Society Transactions; Clinical Science $500 Subscriptions
Society for General Microbiology Microbiology; Journal of Medical Microbiology; Journal of General Virology; Int'l Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 15% Subscriptions
Springer SpringerOpen Journals and Books 15% Membership
Springer Chemistry Central Journals 15% Membership


OA in the Humanities

A sampling of open access publications in the humanities:

AAU, ARL, AAUP Open Access Monograph Publishing Initiative
A new initiative to advance the wide dissemination of scholarship by humanities and humanistic social sciences faculty members by publishing free, open access, digital editions of peer-reviewed and professionally edited monographs.

The Open Library of Humanities is a project to become an open access publisher in the spirit of the Public Library of Science. This project is currently seeking scholars to lend their expertise by signed a pledge to publish in its first year.

Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Comitatus is a peer-reviewed annual publication of the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. The author retains copyright and grants the publisher a non-exclusive, perpetual right to use the digital assets for noncommercial use.

The goal of the eLanguage Project is to effectively utilize modern, web-based publishing technologies in order to provide researchers in the academic discipline of Linguistics with a platform for the management of peer-reviewed, open-access electronic journals. With eLanguage the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) enables researchers to establish their own "co-journals" which are accessible both individually and in an aggregated form on

Hacking the Academy From MPubishing, a division of the University of Michigan Library, this is the open-access version of the title assembled and edited by Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt from the best of over 300 submissions received during a week in which they solicited ideas for how the academy could be beneficially reformed using digital media and technology.

Knowledge Unlatched Ventures in Open Access publishing have traditionally focused on journal publication. Knowledge Unlatched brings the same model to monograph publishing and works with libraries to "create a sustainable route to Open Access for scholarly books and secure long-term cost savings for their own institutions by sharing the costs of making HSS monographs available on a Creative Commons licence."

Open Humanities Press
Open Humanities Press is an international open access publishing collective in critical and cultural theory. Authors retain the copyrights for their works and have a choice of Creative Commons licenses.

Philosopher's Imprint
Philosophers' Imprint is a refereed series of original papers in philosophy, edited by Stephen Darwall and J. David Velleman, with the advice of an international Board of Editors. Published by the University of Michigan Digital Library. Authors retain copyright for their work.

PressForward A growing number of publications presented by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University to explore the vast scholarship that is currently decentralized across the web or does not fit into traditional genres.



OA in the Social Sciences

A sampling of open access publications in the social sciences:

Asian Ethnology
Asian Ethnology is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the promotion of scholarly research on the peoples and cultures of Asia.

Behavior and Social Issues
Behavior and Social Issues is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal that serves as a primary scholarly outlet for articles that advance the analysis of human social behavior, published by the University of Illinois, Chicago. The journal is supported by subscriptions to the archival, hard copy edition. Authors retain copyright but grant exclusive first publication rights and a non-exclusive license to have the work reproduced in other ways.

Cultural Analysis
Cultural Analysis is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to investigating expressive and everyday culture. Published by the University of California, Berkeley. 

For more open titles in the social sciences, consult the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). 

OA in the Sciences

A sampling of open access publications in the sciences:

Public Library of Science (PLoS)
PLoS is a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. PLoS has chosen to apply the less-restrictive Creative Commons Attribution License (CCAL) to all works they publish. 

PeerJ is an Open Access publisher in the biological and medical sciences that offers rapid peer-reviewed publication in a range of subject areas. Rather than charging publication fees, PeerJ operates with a membership model, where authors can pay a one-time fee to publish for life. Membership does not guarantee publication, but offers a benefits such as a PrePrint server for working papers and a network of other scholars. Membership fees can be paid for by the UI Open Access Fund.
eLife is an open access publishing venue for scholars in the life sciences. eLife also allows researchers to submit supplemental data to help advance the ideas and findings reported in the research. 

BioMed Central
BioMed Central is an STM publisher, whose articles are made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication. Publishing costs are covered with article processing charges, defrayed in part by The University Libraries.

Chemistry Central
Chemistry Central publishes peer-reviewed open access research in chemistry. Chemistry central is part of the Biomed Central group. Publishing costs are covered with article processing charges, defrayed in part by The University Libraries.

Optics Express
Optics Express, published by the Optical Society of America, publishes original, peer-reviewed articles that report new developments of interest to the optics community in all fields of optical science and technology. There is no subscription fee for access; the journal is funded by modest author publication fees. Drawing on unique features of the electronic medium, Optics Express offers authors: rapid publication, the chance to include color images at no additional cost, and the medium for presenting data and results in ways not possible in print via audio and video multimedia files.