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Where You Publish Makes a Difference

Your choice of where to publish may make a difference in how often your article is read or cited. Recent research indicates that readers do not want to expend any time on getting around barriers to access. By understanding the options available through open access publishing, you can make it easier for your colleagues to read and make use of your work.

Will I Be Cited ?

A recent study done by Kristin Antelman at North Carolina State University indicates that freely available articles do have a greater research impact. Though Antelman only looked at four specific disciplines, it was clear that the more often something is downloaded, the more likely it is to be cited. In an article entitled Online or Invisible, Steve Lawrence of the NEC Research Institute also opines that free online availability can substantially increase a paper's impact. Scholars in various disciplines are being rewarded for choosing open access publishing.

Because OA journals are a relatively new phenomenon, there are few impact studies thus far. But despite the paucity of data, certain subject areas rank OA journals among the top 9%. Medical titles cited as doing very well are Arthritis Research and Therapy, Breast Cancer Research, Critical Care, and Respiratory Research .

Background Information

There are many articles intended to familiarize you with open access publishing. For a good introduction, see Framing the Issue by the Association of Research Libraries. The Wellcome Trust has done a thorough study in Costs and Business Models in Scientific Research Publishing. To find out more about NIH's recent plan to give access to taxpayer-funded research, see this article from the Washington Post and some FAQs. Jospeph Esposito believes open access will come about through "some upstart media built with the innate characteristics of the Internet." See his article, The Devil You Don't Know.


  1. Commercial Publishers (library pays)
    In this model, the libraries/universities pay for subscriptions, print or electronic, and the users typically have free access. Some commercial publishers are tweaking their policies in order to be competitive in the open access era, allowing author archiving or depositing in repositories after a specified period of time.

  2. Open Access (author or library pays)
    Open access holds the promise of making scholarly articles freely available to everyone - scholars and consumers alike - over the internet. Digital access is free to users with the cost being borne by authors or their sponsors, often the university library. Peer review is unchanged. Some of these models are PubMed Central, PloS, and BioMed Central. Johns Hopkins is an institutional member of BioMed Central; therefore the author's fee is waived for Hopkins researchers who submit articles to the journals published there.

    This mode of open access is often referred to as "The Gold Road" to open access.

    For a facinating case study of launching a new open access journal in the humanities, see:

    Willinsky, J. & Mendis, R. (2007). "Open access on a zero budget: a case study of Postcolonial Text" Information Research, 12(3) paper 308. Available at

  3. Hybrid Models (free and for fee mixture)
    Bowing to some of the pressures of open access publishing, certain publishers have made some of their journal content free and open while shielding other articles behind the subscription fees. While having access to some information is better than nothing, this model is a complex one to manage. It is a challenge to librarians and to the public to know what is free and what is not. An article on the subject is: Open Access, yes! Open Excess, no!.

  4. Digital Repositories (local archiving)
    Various publishers now allow some form of archiving locally. This means that authors can deposit their work voluntarily in repositories at their own institutions or funding agencies. This movement is just beginning to gather momentum; few full-fledged local repositories exist at the moment. For background on the subject, see Institutional Repositories: Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age. Read about models such as arXiv and Dspace. The NIH recently established a policy for articles deriving from federally-funded projects. Beginning May 2, 2005 , authors are asked to deposit their final manuscripts to the PubMed Central archive within 12 months after the journal publication date. The archive will be freely available to all.

    This mode of open access is often referred to as "The Green Road" to open access.

Other organizations and initiatives aimed at creating publishing alternatives or open access solutions are:

JScholarship (The Johns Hopkins Institutional Repository)

The Johns Hopkins Institutional Respository provides Hopkins researchers with a convenient and easy-to-use facility to self-archive pre-prints, post-prints, and other documents and media. It therefore supports and facilitates the so-called "Green Road" to open access.

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)

SPARC is a worldwide alliance of research institutions, libraries, and organizations launched in 1998 to enhance broad and cost-effective access to peer-reviewed scholarship and promote competition in the scholarly communications market. The SPARC Europe office, opened in 2002, has 39 members from ten countries and is based in Oxford, U.K.  SPARC initiatives include:

  • SPARC Alternatives program: supports incubation of competitive alternatives to high-priced commercial journals.  Organic Letters , an alternative to Tetrahedron Letters, is published by the American Chemical Society and endorsed by SPARC. In less than four years, Organic Letters has published over 14,000 pages of original research in organic chemistry, and in 2001 it beat its competitor in impact factors according to the 2001 ISI Journal Citation Reports.
  • SPARC Leading Edge program: supports ventures that obtain competitive advantage through technology or innovative business models.
  • SPARC Scientific Communities: program supports development of non-profit portals that serve the needs of a discrete scientific community by aggregating peer-reviewed research and other content.

BioMed Central

BioMed Central is an independent publishing house committed to providing immediate free access to peer-reviewed biomedical research. Johns Hopkins is an institutional member of BioMed Central; therefore the author's fee is waived for Hopkins researchers who submit articles to the journals published by BioMed Central.  BioMed Central features:

  • Online submission and peer-review technology available without charge for groups of scientists who wish to run open access, online journals under their own editorial control;
  • Retention of copyright for authors who publish original research articles in journals published by BioMed Central;
  • Support of PubMed Central and other digital repositories that encourage self-archiving by authors.

PubMed Central

PubMed Central (PMC) is a digital archive of life sciences journal literature, developed and managed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). PubMed Central aims to fill the role of a world-class library in the digital age.  It is not a journal publisher.   PubMed Central features: 

  • Free and unrestricted access;
  • Voluntary participation by publishers, although participating journals must meet certain editorial standards. All peer reviewed primary research articles in are included by journals participating in PMC;
  • Flexible public release dates of materials deposited by journals;
  • Retention of copyright by the journal publisher or the individual author, whichever is applicable.


arXiv is a pre-print archive, originally created for the rapid dissemination of research results in the field of high-energy physics.  Developed by physicist Paul Ginsparg in 1991, arXiv has become a major forum for the dissemination of research results in physics, mathematics, nonlinear sciences, computational linguistics and neuroscience.   It features:

  • An interactive mechanism for scientific communications that complements and often supplants more traditional paper publications;
  • Free access via the Internet;
  • Minimal editorial oversight; comments from other investigators, both supporting and opposing.


SCOAP3 is an effort by high energy physicists to make six of their core journals open access.


DSpace is a digital repository created to capture, distribute and preserve the intellectual output of MIT. A joint project of MIT Libraries and the Hewlett-Packard Company, DSpace provides stable long-term storage needed to house the digital products of MIT faculty and researchers.

  • For the user: DSpace provides access to DSpace content through the Web; 
  • For the contributor: DSpace offers the advantages of digital distribution and long-term preservation for a variety of formats including text, audio, video, images, datasets and more. Authors can store their digital works in collections that are maintained by MIT communities;
  • For the institution: DSpace offers the opportunity to provide access to all the research of the institution through one interface. 


BioOne is an innovative collaboration between scientific societies, libraries, universities and the private sector. BioOne provides access to full-text high-impact bioscience research journals, the majority of which are published by small societies and non-commercial publishers.  Prior to BioOne, these materials have been available only in printed form. BioOne delivers:

  • Thoroughly linked and easily-accessible core research in the biosciences;
  • A cost-effective alternative to high-priced commercially-published journals;
  • A mechanism that enables high-value non-profit journals from scientific societies to remain independent and viable.

Budapest Open Archives Initiative (BOAI)

The goal of the BOAI is to accelerate progress in the international effort to make research articles in all academic fields freely available on the Internet. With initial funding of $1million US from the OSI Information Program, the BOAI supports:

  • the development of business models and plans for sustainable self-archiving and open access publishing;
  • use of library networks (like the Electronic Information for Libraries consortium, currently covering 40 countries - see to mobilize support for open access globally;
  • support for researchers in low and middle income countries to publish in open-access journals which charge up front fees;
  • development of software tools and templates for open access publishing, self-archiving, indexing and navigation;
  • promotion of the open access philosophy among foundations and donors, science and research funding agencies, libraries and universities, as well as governments, policymakers and international organizations worldwide.

Public Library of Science (PLoS)

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource. Goals are to:

  • Open the doors to the world's library of scientific knowledge by giving any scientist, physician, patient, or student - anywhere in the world - unlimited access to the latest scientific research.
  • Facilitate research, informed medical practice, and education by making it possible to freely search the full text of every published article to locate specific ideas, methods, experimental results, and observations.
  • Enable scientists, librarians, publishers, and entrepreneurs to develop innovative ways to explore and use the world's treasury of scientific ideas and discoveries.

PLoS is working with scientists, their societies, funding agencies, and other publishers to pursue our broader goal of ensuring an open-access home for every published article and to develop tools to make the literature useful to scientists and the public.

PLoS Biology launched its first issue on October 13, 2003, in print and online. PLoS Medicine will follow in 2004.


SHERPA investigates issues related to the future of scholarly communication and publishing. In particular, it is initiating the development of openly accessible institutional digital repositories of research output in a number of research universities. These so-called 'e-print archives' will contain papers by researchers from the participating institutions.

The site also hosts the Publishers Copyrights Listings (ROMEO) service, which lists publisher's copyright transfer agreements.

SHERPA: Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research Preservation and Access.

SHERPA is funded by JISC and CURL. It is hosted by the University of Nottingham.

Open Humanities Press

Open Humanities Press is an international open access publishing collective in critical and cultural theory.

Open Humanities Press journals are fully peer reviewed, scholarly publications that have been chosen by OHP's editorial advisory board for their outstanding contribution to contemporary theory. OHP's journals are independent, published under open access licences and free of charge to readers and authors alike.