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Open Access: Open Access Publishing Models

This guide presents information regarding practical issues surrounding Open Access including the benefits of open access, securing author rights, strategies for releasing work as open access, and how the Vanderbilt Library can help.

Open Access Publishing (Gold OA)

Open access journals typically have the following characteristics:

  • They are scholarly/ peer reviewed
  • Utilize quality control mechanisms just like conventional journals
  • Freely and openly available on the web
  • No charge to readers

Authors can publish their work in a traditional open access journal, a hybrid open access journal, or a delayed open access journal.

Traditional Open Access Journals

  • Journals established by digital commercial or nonprofit publishers for the sole purpose of publishing open access content
  • Typically  utilize a Creative Commons Attribution License for publishing
  • Authors usually retain their copyright.
  • Different funding strategies used to support the journal:
    • Advertising
    • Membership fees
    • Author fees (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)

Hybrid Open Access Journals

  • Journals where only some of the articles are open access
  • Open access status requires the payment of a publication fee/ processing fee to the publisher
  • Definition of open access may vary according to publisher

Ex: Publishers offering hybrid open access include:  Elsevier:  Open Access Options; Oxford University Press:  Oxford Open; SAGE Publications:  SAGE Open; for a more extensive list of publishers visit SHERPA/RoMEO's page Publishers with Paid Options for Open Access

Delayed Open Access Journals

  • Traditional subscription-based journal
  • Provide open access or free access after the elapse of an embargo period following the initial date of publication
    • Embargo periods vary from a few months to two or more years
  • Journal subscription or individual article purchase required to view articles prior to the end of the embargo period
  • Model adopted by many scholarly society journals

Ex. Journal Molecular Biology of the Cell (2 month embargo)

Open Access Self-Archiving (Green OA)

Authors self-archive pre-print¹ or post-print² copies of their articles or conference papers in:

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 visibilty, exposure, usage and imapct 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