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Open Access & Scholarly Communication: Open Access Myths

An overview of resources and news in the scholarly community.

Open Access Myths

Myth:  Authors must choose between publishing in a prestigious journal and an OA journal

There are growing numbers of prestigious OA journals available in almost every discipline. These publications are newer than the traditional print publications.  For that reason, scholars that have kept current in their fields will be more aware of their presence.  And odds are good that even the older print journals now have options for OA publishing, if an author wishes to make their content openly available (these types of publications are now known as "hybrid" journals).

Myth:  The peer review procedure is not as rigorous in an OA publication

The peer review process in OA journals often utilizes the same procedures, the same professional standards, and even the same people (editors, referees, etc.) as conventional journals.  The fact that a publication in OA does not, alone, indicate anything about the quality of its peer review.  

Myth:  You must pay a fee to publish in an OA journal

Most OA journals do NOT require any charges or fees for publication. A minority of OA journals do utilize Article Processing Charges (APCs) to offset any costs for the readers. In many instances, the APCs are paid by a research grant or academic institution rather than the author.

Myth:  Paying an APC to publish in OA is the equivalent to "vanity publishing"

If you have submitted your work to a legitimate OA scholarly publisher, it will undergo a peer review and selection process just as it would within a traditional publishing environment. It is this peer review procedure that differentiates scholarly publishing from vanity publishing.  And it is important to note that many traditional print journals also charge author fees, often at higher costs and with more frequency than their OA counterparts.

Myth:  OA publishing invites plagiarism

OA content may be easier to plagiarize, through methods such as "copy & paste", but, for the same reason, plagiarism of OA content is easier to detect.  Users of OA works are legally and ethically obligated to cite their sources just as they are with print content.  There is no evidence to suggest that OA content is plagiarized at higher rates. To the contrary, studies indicate that OA works are cited more often than their print counterparts.

Myth:  OA publications will not count towards promotion and tenure

Whether or not publication in open access titles will be accepted during tenure/promotion review will be largely dependent upon the judgment of the departmental faculty.  The Modern Language Association (MLA) recommends:

"for the purposes of hiring, reappointment, tenure, and promotion, departments evaluating scholarly publications should judge journals, monographs, or other substantial scholarly works according to the same criteria, whether they are published in digital or print formats.  For electronically published scholarship, these criteria may include a journal's peer-review policy, its rate of acceptance, the nature of its editorial board and publisher, a press's rigor in editorial process, and the general profile of the journal or press in the field it covers. Electronic publications should receive credit comparable to that given to print publications."

Open Access Myths

Myth:  OA publishing is just a fad

The Open Access movement is an international initiative that has been widely accepted and promoted by the top academic and research institutions.  It has fundamentally and permanently altered the landscape of scholarly publishing and education.

The following institutions have passed Open Access policies, mandating the institutional support for Open Access in all areas: