Myths & Facts

This information is summarized from a Boston College Libraries Newsletter (Spring 2011) article.

Myth: Open access journals are not peer-reviewed and are of low quality.

Fact: Open access journals, just like any other journal, can be peer-reviewed or not, depending on the journal policy. The fact that the journal is open access says nothing about whether it is peer-reviewed. Most scholarly open access journals are peer-reviewed.

Myth:  Open access is a subversive movement that will ultimately undermine our copyright system.

Fact: Open access works entirely within our current copyright system. Your work as an author is copyrighted to you the moment you fix it in a tangible medium of expression (typing it into Word and clicking Save, for example). You retain that copyright until you give some or all of it away.

Myth: Open access will destroy the scholarly publishing system and cause journals to fail.

Fact: New models are emerging in scholarly publishing. One safeguard that many journals implement is a time-limited embargo on open access. Journals recoup most of the publishing costs within the first year of publication. Articles can then be made open access without loss of revenue.
Many journal publishers (Oxford, Cambridge, Wiley, Sage, etc.) have also decided to change their business model from subscription-only, cost-recovery, to a hybrid model, in which open access articles are published alongside traditional ones. Article processing fees are charged to recoup the publishers' costs. Hybrid journal policies should be examined carefully, however; some allow free access to the article but do not allow any of the derivative uses associated with true open access. See "When is Open Access Not Open Access?"


Myth: If I try to retain some rights, publishers will think I am difficult and will not want to publish my work.

Fact: Publishers are very used to dealing with these requests at this point. Far from being unusual, the retention of rights by authors is becoming a mainstream choice.  Approximately 60% of academic journals allow some form or open access archiving without any use of an addendum to the contract.  For a searchable database of publisher policies about copyright and archiving, explore the SHERPA/RoMEO site.


Myth:  Publishing my work open access is a nice, altruistic thing to do, but there is nothing in it for me.

Fact: Open access publishing does help address inequities in access to knowledge globally. Few people in the world have access to the resources we have here at WVU. But, in addition, most studies show a clear citation advantage for open access publications. Open access publications are cited more often than those that are subscription-only and citation counts are still important factors in tenure and promotion decisions.