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Open Access journal assessment

Open Access journals

The content of Open access journals can be freely accessed by readers across the globe. 

Many OA journals have a reputation for high quality content, for example:

  • BioMed CentralOnline publisher of free peer-reviewed scientific articles in all areas of science, technology, medicine and biology.
  • PLoS: Public Library of ScienceA non-profit open access publishing project aimed at creating a library of open-access peer reviewed journals.
    • In 2014 PLoS introduced a Data Policy stating that PLOS journals require authors to make all data underlying the findings described in their manuscript fully available without restriction, with rare exceptions. See the PLoS site for further details

OASPA - Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association: Brings together the major Open Access publishers in all scientific, technical, and scholarly disciplines.

OA journals allow authors to retain copyright.  For example, articles published by BioMedCentral and PLoS are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence. This allows anyone to download, reuse, reprint, distribute or copy articles from BioMed Central and PLoS journals, provided the original author and source are credited.

Identify quality Open Access journals and avoid Predatory Publishers

If you decide to publish in an OA journal, it is important to carefully evaluate the scholarly credibility of both the publisher and the journal.

Predatory publishers are increasing, so how can you tell if the journal in your sights is legitimate or predatory?

Some warning sign characteristics of ‘predatory’ open access journals and publishers: 

  • Sending 'cold call' emails to academics inviting them to submit articles to the journal or become a reviewer for a journal
    • The email may contain dubious Impact Factor information 
  • Lack of a rigorous peer-review process
    • Some journals don’t even mention ‘peer review, they promote a very short ‘decision making‘ time frame, e.g. 1-2 weeks
  • The journal publishes a vast number of articles in each issue
  • The publication fee (Article Processing Charge) is unusually low, e.g. US $150
  • No single individual is identified as the journal editor, but there is a long list of editors named on the website
  • The publisher of the journal is not stated on the website
  • The journal/publisher website includes spelling and grammatical errors
  • The journal is not listed in standard periodical directories (eg Ulrichs) and not indexed by the major indexes (e.g. ProQuest, EBSCO or Web of Science)

It is highly recommended that each journal be carefully evaluated before an article is submitted. 

Questions to ask and databases to check:

  • Is the journal listed in Ulrichs Global Serials Directory - a comprehensive listing of more than 300,000 periodical titles?
  • Are articles from the journal indexed in journal databases relevant to your field,
  • Is the journal listed in citation databases such as Scopus or Web of Science?
  • Who is on the editorial board? You may decide to contact the member to check that their affiliation is legitimate.
  • What is the quality of the articles? If they're clearly written by a novice this may indicate a predatory publisher.
  • Does the publisher have a clear peer-review process and provide details about their peer-review panel?

Use the Think, Check, Submit guidelines below to avoid publishing with predatory and low quality journals.

Think. Check. Submit.

Remember this little mantra and visit the Think.Check.Submit website which has a checklist under each heading.

Are you submitting your research to a trusted journal?
Is it the right journal for your work?  Watch this short video.

Do It Yourself evaluation

Download the TEQSA Predatory publishing: A to Z elements poster below, it's a handy guide to the features of reputable and disreputable publishers.

Hijacked Journals Checker

Another scam affecting academic publishing is the hijacking of journals by illegitimate publishers who clone existing journal websites that "mimic legitimate journals by adopting their titles, ISSNs, and other metadata." Retraction Watch (retrieved Nov 2023).

Consult the Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker list as a precaution before submitting an article.

Recommended further reading: Greenfield, N. M (2023, Nov 20) How journal hijackers derail academic careers with impunity. In University World News

University OA journals

Many universities publish Open Access journals under the Gold model of Open Access publishing, including Bond University, which publishes a number of quality peer-reviewed journals on the Scholastica platform.  The OA journals are featured on the Bond Library website.  To find quality peer-reviewed OA journals exemplifying academic institutional publishing explore this extensive list of Australian University OA journals and consider becoming a contributor.