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Is open access publishing where you want to see your work? Questions to ask yourself and best practices

During their 2018 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “A New Publishing Landscape: Open Access,” Kristen Cvancara, Laura Jacobi, and Heidi Southworth shared curiosities, opportunities, and pitfalls of open access publishing. For those curious about how their work may fit in the open access publishing landscape, the panel encouraged conducting a self-assessment and getting feedback from others first. For when you’re ready to explore open access publishing, they shared best practices as well.


Before embarking on an open access publishing path, it is important to consider whether such a publishing option is suited to you and your work. To answer this personal question, you must first answer a bigger question: “What are my publishing goals?”

Once you can answer that question, the presenters suggested four more for consideration:

  1. How will I assess the respectability of the open access outlets available?
  2. How do I feel about paying for my work to be published?
  3. How will I pay for the potential fees associated with open access publishing?
  4. Will there be repercussions on my academic reputation?

Ask others

At the core of the open access publishing landscape is community. To help answer some of the questions above, it can be useful to gain the insight and opinion of others in your research community. Specifically, the presenters advise discussing the following questions with librarians, discipline colleagues, your dean and university administration, and the business office.

Questions to ask librarians

  • Is this a respectable and honorable outlet for my work?
  • Will the library system honor it? recommend it?

Questions to ask discipline colleagues

  • Will my work be respected and acknowledged?
  • Are other colleagues in my discipline publishing in this or similar types of outlets?

Questions to ask your dean and university administration

  • How will the administration perceive my work?
  • Will it earn me my next promotion?

Questions to ask the business office

  • Who will pay for the processing fees that may be associated with open access publishing?

Best practices

One of the main reasons to examine and employ best practices in open access publishing is to distinguish legitimate publishing opportunities from the predatory publishing options that exist. Although many open access journals charge article processing charges (APCs) ranging from $8 to $3,900, it’s important to note that open access publishers are not automatically predatory publishers.

To avoid the pitfalls of predatory publishing while contributing to this new landscape, do your homework before submission. Some things to consider.

  • Open access is about removing barriers to access, not bypassing peer review. Peer review should and must remain a key component of any form of publishing.
  • Legitimate open access journals will have a clearly identified governing board or editorial committee and an editorial team listed with ways to contact them.
  • Copyright considerations should be clearly described on the journal’s web site, and licensing terms should be indicated on all published articles, both HTML and PDFs.
  • Author fees should be clearly stated in a place that is easy for potential authors to find prior to submitting their manuscripts for review or explained to authors before they begin preparing their manuscript for submission.
  • A journal time table should include a clear, established publishing schedule.

It’s also best to check the reputation of a potential publisher prior to submitting your work for publication.

The open access publishing landscape is a vastly undiscovered frontier full of opportunities and pitfalls. Hopefully these tips will help you navigate it safely and with great success.

Eric SchmiederEric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.