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Publish in Open Access Journals—Think, Check, then Submit

October 24-30 is Open Access Week

If you’re a researcher, you may have run into this situation before: You need an article and it isn’t available through UT Libraries’ subscriptions, so you wait a couple of days to get a copy through interlibrary loan. But what happens if you aren’t affiliated with a large university? Maybe you have a family member who needs information on clinical trials. Maybe you’re an amateur archaeologist, or gardener, or health nut, and scholarly articles would help with your hobbies and improve your wellbeing. People in these situations don’t wait for access, they simply can’t access most peer-reviewed research published in subscription-funded journals.

Improving access is one reason to publish openly, and it’s a driving force behind the University’s Open Publishing Support Fund (OPSF).

The OPSF helps faculty and graduate students pay the article processing fees that many open access journals charge instead of subscriptions.

The OPSF is co-sponsored by the Office of Research and Engagement and the University Libraries, with funds available on a first-come, first-served basis.

But what about problems with open access (OA)?

In August, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against the OA publisher OMICS because their journal articles receive little to no peer-review and their editorial boards are largely fictitious.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, higher education blogs, and other news outlets have given attention to several problematic OA publishers, labeling them “predatory” publishers.

Thankfully, identifying good publishing practices within the OA sphere has gotten easier, due to the efforts of Lars Bjørnshauge, formerly of Lund University, and several publishers and library and information science organizations. Their work led to the 7-criteria Think-Check-Submit checklist, which helps authors determine if a journal follows good publishing practices. Perhaps most time-efficient is criteria #7:

Check if the journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), a list of journals who meet baseline criteria for good publishing practices, or if the publisher is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).

“Evaluating publishers is of the utmost importance in maintaining your professional integrity,” says Rachel Caldwell, scholarly communication and publishing librarian at UT Libraries. “This is important not only for article submissions, but whenever you’re approached by a publisher.

If you’re asked to serve as a peer-reviewer, use the Think-Check-Submit checklist to review the journal first.

If you’re asked to write a chapter for a monograph, talk to your librarian about the publisher before you agree. Make sure you know something about their reputation.”

Librarians do not approve all OSPF applications. The OPSF eligibility guidelines are informed by the Committee on Publication Ethics and their work with the DOAJ and OASPA. Caldwell says that several OPSF applications have been rejected because the applicants asked for funding to publish in OMICS journals. The journals were not listed in DOAJ and OMICS is not a member of OASPA; therefore, the application did not meet OPSF eligibility guidelines.

“Librarians are aware of the wide range of quality within OA journals, because there is a range of quality among all journals, OA or not,” says Caldwell. She tells researchers that thinking about who might want to read their work is a valuable consideration. When authors want to publish openly to reach the broadest possible audience, there are resources available to help them make informed publishing decisions.

For more information:

Contact Rachel Caldwell, scholarly communication and publishing librarian ( or 865-974-6107).

See our Scholarly Publishing Toolkit.

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