Landman Library

Open Access FAQs

Below are some of the top misconceptions and misunderstandings that many faculty, staff, and students have about Open Access (OA).

Authors can freely use their own published content.

This is often not true. Most of the time an author transfers the copyright to the publisher at the time of publication, allowing the publisher to restrict the authors’ right to re-use their own content.

Options: Publish in an Open Access publication or a journal that allows an author to retain the rights to re-use their own work. Another option is to negotiate the author’s rights at the time of submission or publication.


Keep Your Copyrights: A Resource for Creators. Designed to help creators hold on to their copyrights and to license their rights on author-friendly terms. Written by legal academics at Columbia Law School.

SHERPA/RoMEO. Use this site to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher’s copyright transfer agreement.

SPARC Author Addendum. Secure your rights as the author of a journal article.

OA journals are not peer-reviewed.

Scholarly Open Access journals follow the same peer-review model that subscription-based journals do. Furthermore, there are many high quality Open Access journals, some featuring very high impact factors as per the Journal Citation Report. While there is some debate over whether Open Access increases citation counts, there is also debate over whether citation counts should be the only measure of research impact.

Options: Use the same standards to judge Open Access journals as one would with any other publisher. Read the content, see who else is publishing there, and look at the impact factor.


Online Journals Published with Digital Commons. This is a list of the many journals published with Digital Commons. Most of these journals include the usual peer-review process.

Open Access Citation Advantage: An Annotated Bibliography. This annotated bibliography lists studies and review articles that examine whether Open Access articles receive more citations than equivalent subscriptions. Wagner, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Winter 2010.

PLoS Article Level Metrics. Article-Level Metrics, a new program started by PLoS in March 2009 puts relevant performance data on articles including online usage, citations, social bookmarks, notes, comments, ratings and blog coverage.

Journals that are peer-reviewed are not OA.

There are many peer-reviewed journals that are and have always been fully Open Access. Furthermore, there are an increasing amount of subscription-based, highly respected, peer-reviewed journals that have started to devote some attention to Open Access in the form of annual Open Access issues or by going completely Open Access. Now that Open Access has gained momentum, if an author is not paying attention they may not be fully aware if the publisher is open or not.

Options: As a contributing author to any publication, lobby for more Open Access. Most scholarly publications will listen to their constituency, so authors are encouraged to speak up on behalf of increasing access to the publication. On the other side, publishers can start to find ways to publish some of their content openly, if not work towards full Open Access.


Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Aims to provide centralized access to all Open Access scientific and scholarly journals, all peer-reviewed. 

OMICS Group International Peer Review Open Access Journals. One of the leading Open Access Publishing houses, which has around 350 peer-reviewed journals, 30,000 eminent and renowned Editorial Board members, and highly qualified, expert reviewers to meet the objectives of the Peer-Review Process.

There are not any OA journals in my field.

Most of the top journals in any field are still under some type of subscription-based access, though many society journals have started to dedicate annual issues to Open Access, if not exploring full Open Access models altogether. 

Options: Publish where you want – that is always the goal for any scholar. If the publication you wish to publish in is not Open Access, try to retain enough rights to your work to be able to openly share a version of your work online after publication. This is known as “Green Open Access”, and actively involves an author making their peer-reviewed scholarship publicly available on a website or institutional repository.  


The Committee On Institutional Cooperation. Statement On Publishing Agreements & Addendum To Publication Agreements For Authors

OA has a negative effect on academic promotion.

Promotion and Tenure committees usually base their decisions on research impact and service to the university, among other things. The scholarship presented to them in a review packet is not weighted based on the access model of the journal it was published in, rather the committees are much more interested in the impact that journal has. Furthermore, these committees are not actively investigating if a publisher is Open Access or not, and in some cases a faculty member’s dossier may contain Open Access articles without any party being aware. 

Options: Authors should not be concerned if a publication they wish to submit research to is Open Access. As with any publisher, an author will always want to investigate the impact that publication has. In addition, some Promotion and Tenure committees have issued statements in support of Open Access scholarship. 


Forging a New Path: Faculty Buy-In for the Institutional Repository and Open Access Publishing. Hixson, Carol G., Tina Neville, and Deborah Henry. “Forging a New Path: Faculty Buy-In for the Institutional Repository and Open Access Publishing.” (2013).

Motivations of Faculty Self-archiving in Institutional Repositories (AU Access). Kim, Jihyun. “Motivations of faculty self-archiving in institutional repositories. “The Journal of Academic Librarianship 37.3 (2011): 246-254.

OA is just a way for libraries to save money.

While it is true that the price of scholarly publications has outpaced the slimming budgets of most libraries, this is not the driving factor for libraries in promoting Open Access. The library is more interested in Open Access as a new publication model that increases access to research, instead of impeding it.

Options: Institutions and advocates can provide increased funding to support Open Access publications and publishing, including institutional and subject repositories. Overall, more research is needed to help discover and develop other new models for increasing access to scholarly works.


Campus-based Open-Access Publishing Funds (SPARC). Explores what funds are being launched, the considerations and decisions involved in their creation, and how existing funds are being managed.

Open Access, Library and Publisher Competition, and the Evolution of General Commerce (AU Access). Odlyzko, Andrew M. “Open Access, library and publisher competition, and the evolution of general commerce.” Evaluation review (2014): 0193841X13514751.

ScholarWorks@Arcadia. A digital repository that collects and shares scholarship produced at Arcadia University with both the University community and the worldwide academic community. 

OA and Public Access are the same thing.

Public Access in most cases allows a publisher to place an embargo on research for up to a year or more. Such entities as PubMed Central, the NIH Public Access Policy, or the Federal Research Public Access Act allow for this delayed Access. Only Open Access makes research fully and freely available at the time of publication.

Options: An author can publish in an Open Access journal, which would provide immediate and free access to the work. Additionally, authors can lobby federal and other grant-issuing agencies to keep publisher’s embargo periods as short as possible, or get rid of the embargo altogether.


NIH Public Access Policy. The NIH Public Access Policy requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to PubMed Central immediately upon acceptance for publication.

Federal Research Public Access Act from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. Information about FRPPA and ways to express your support for passage of this legislation.

Economic and Social Returns on Investment in Open Archiving Publicly Funded Research Outputs. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) provided support for a feasibility study, to outline one possible approach to measuring the impacts of the proposed US Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) on returns to public investment in R&D.

Author’s that publish in OA journals must pay to do so.

Imposing author’s fees is just one of the many economic models employed by the hundreds of Open Access publishers, some are completely free to publish in. Furthermore, there are many Open Access funds that an author can apply for to subsidize the author’s fee. 

Options: Authors should seek out publishers that do not require any author’s fees, or search for Open Access funds to support the publishing of their research. Additionally, research institutions and scholarly societies should develop Open Access funds to help support authors who seek to publish in Open Access journals that require fees.


Open Access Journal Fund (Simmons College). This is a list of funds to support OA journals. The funds may be hosted by universities, research centers, foundations, or government agencies.

SPARC Open Access Funds. This SPARC project supports experimentation with Open Access funds across institutions of all shapes and sizes.

OA does not work as an economic model.

Open Access has proven to be sustainable economically for a number of scholarly journal publishers in the sciences, and most recently in the humanities. It is also important to highlight that there is not just one economic model for Open Access – some include author’s fees, while others are completely funded. 

Options: More professional associations and society publishers should investigate the options and impacts of moving their journals to an Open Access model.


Journal of the Medical Library Association. This is an example of an Open Access journal with no author fees.

Open Access versus Traditional Journal Pricing: Using a Simple “Platform Market” Model to Understand Which Will Win (and Which Should) (AU Access). McCabe, Mark J., Christopher M. Snyder, and Anna Fagin. “Open Access versus Traditional Journal Pricing: Using a Simple “Platform Market” Model to Understand Which Will Win (and Which Should).” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 39.1 (2013): 11-19.

Open Access Journal Economic Issues Bibliography. List of scholarly articles related to the economics of Open Access.

There is no time or resources to make my scholarship OA.

Looking into publishing agreements, publishers Open Access policies, authors addenda and other resources can take time. There is a process to follow, as authors want to make sure they are following proper protocol in respecting publishers copyright agreements and posting correct versions of their works openly online. 

Options: There are resources right here at Arcadia. This resource guide is meant to provide some guidance in navigating publisher’s agreements and locating the correct version of the article to post openly online. Arcadia also hosts an institutional repository for these works – ScholarWorks@Arcaida. In addition, there are librarians who are able to assist in the heavy lifting. If you are interested in getting started, but are not sure where to begin, start with contacting your subject librarian or the Scholarly Communications Librarian.


ScholarWorks@Arcadia. Arcadia University’s digital institutional repository which collects and provides free access to scholarship produced by Arcadia faculty, students, and staff.