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As good as gold? A guide to Open Access publishing options in ecology and conservation journals

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Edited by Jenny Duckworth, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020, 11:51

H818 Conference presentation

As good as gold? A guide to Open Access publishing options in ecology and conservation journals

Thursday 13th February, 10.55-11.10

Link to multimedia poster (not screen readable): 


Audio version of poster: 


Transcript to accompany audio: 


Draft website


Slides from conference presentation



Academic careers are built on research outputs and their dissemination, so publication in well-regarded journals is a priority. This is particularly the case for researchers early in their careers who need to publish to gain a ‘foot in the door’ within academia and build their reputations. This presentation will introduce a multimedia guide to Open Access (OA) publishing options for early career researchers in ecology and conservation in the UK.

In contrast to the ‘traditional’ approach of publishing articles in journals that can be read via a paid-for subscription or one-off charge, OA makes them freely available to readers (JISC, 2019). This means that they reach a wider audience, so the research gets more exposure and is cited more (Piwowar et al., 2018). OA is increasingly being mandated by research funders, with the main UK funding bodies, including the Research Councils and Wellcome Trust, making OA publication of research outputs a requirement.

There are two main approaches to OA: ‘green’ (where articles are made available via digital repositories) and ‘gold’ (where articles are made free to read in journals), but the latter may involve payment of an article processing charge (APC) by the authors. Through the gold route, the author may choose to pay to publish in a fully OA journal, or make it OA within a ‘hybrid’ journal that has a mixture of OA and pay-to-read articles. Several other OA ‘options’ have appeared more recently, including ‘platinum’ journals, which do not levy an APC on the authors, and ‘bronze’, where publishers make an article OA but only for a limited period of time and/or without an open licence (Piwowar et al., 2018). Articles can also be made available via ‘black’ OA, through illegal sites such as SciHub (Björk, 2016).

Although most OA journals are considered ‘credible’ through their listing in the Directory of Open Access Journals (Tennant et al., 2019) there has been a rise in so-called ‘predatory’ OA journals. These take advantage of researchers through promises of rapid publication or low APCs but peer review is minimal or absent and quality compromised (McCann and Polacsek, 2017)

With the range of OA ‘options’ available, it can be difficult for researchers, particularly those early in their careers, to know how to choose the best OA ‘option’ whilst ensuring they publish in a high quality journal. A multimedia guide has therefore been produced to support early career researchers in navigating the different OA options. This guide, which will be demonstrated during the conference presentation, is hosted on a website and includes a short video introduction to the OA ‘options’. The accompanying text provides an overview of each ‘option’ and factors to consider when choosing them, together with links to further information where appropriate. It also includes some worked examples for different ecology and conservation journals, covering costs and any publishing conditions, to help authors make an informed publication choice. 

Björk, B-C. (2016) ‘Gold, green and black open access’, Learned Publishing, vol. 30, pp. 173-175 [Online]. Available at: https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/doi/full/10.1002/leap.1096 (Accessed 29 December 2019).

JISC (2019) An introduction to Open Access [Online]. Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/an-introduction-to-open-access (Accessed 29 December 2019).

McCann, T.V. and Polacsek, M. (2017) ‘False gold: safely navigating open access publishing to avoid predatory publishers and journals’, Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol. 74, pp. 809-817 [Online]. Available at: https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/doi/full/10.1111/jan.13483 (Accessed 29 December 2019).

Piwowar, H., Priem, J., Larivière, V., Alperin, J.P., Matthias, L., Norlander, B., Farley, A., West, J. and Haustein, S. (2018) ‘The state of OA: a large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access Articles’, PeerJ 6:e4375 [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4375 (Accessed 29 December 2019).

Tennant, J.P., Crane, H., Crick, T. et al. (2019) ‘Ten hot topics in scholarly publishing’, Publications, vol. 7, issue 2, [Online]. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/7/2/34/htm (Accessed 3 January 2020).

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