Scholarly Impact Challenge

This guide contains 10 challenges for scholars to better understand and manage their online scholarly presence, as well as the impact and reach of their research.

Introduction to Publishing Open Access

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Publishing in Open Access (OA) journals is a great way to make your work available for all to read, and it has the added advantage of getting you more citations, views, and social media mentions.

What’s not to love about that?

In this challenge, we’ll discuss some advantages and drawbacks to publishing your work Open Access, and share tips on how to publish OA.

Open Access Publishing: Wins and Fails

Open Access publishing has some great advantages to it, and also some drawbacks that are important to consider. Let’s break down some of the arguments.


  • More readers and more citations: Open Access journals garner more citations, as numerous studies have shown (and continue to show).
  • More altmetrics: The same study found that Open Access articles also receive more tweets than toll-access journals.
  • More access for those who need it: there are plenty of people who might need access to your studies–scholars from small institutions and
  • developing countries, and citizen scientists. Publishing Open Access will allow it.
  • But wait! There’s more! reports that open access articles have greater public engagement, faster impact, wider collaboration, and increased interdisciplinary conversation


  • Lack of prestige: It’s a sad fact that reviewers for tenure and promotion often judge the quality of articles by the journal of publication when skimming CVs. Article-level metrics can be an answer to this problem, though–a highly cited paper is still highly cited, no matter where it’s published.
  • It can be expensive: many Open Access journals charge publication fees that cost anywhere from $75 to $4300, making OA publishing a non-starter for underfunded researchers. Fee waivers are available, though–we’ll talk more about those below.
  • Your colleagues might not see your paper: if you publish in anything but the top journals in your subject area, chances are that your colleagues won’t be aware of your paper’s existence. It’s hard nowadays for your colleagues to follow all the new developments in your field, so if you choose to publish OA, it might take a little legwork on your part to get them to notice your article.
  • Concern about deceptive publishers: We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that with the rise of OA publishing there has been an increase in the number of unscrupulous publishers sometimes known as predatory publishers. Of course, publication ethics are important for all publishers. But so-called predatory publishers engage in deceptive, deceitful, and/or fraudulent activities which may actually end up harming your reputation. The Think, Check, Submit initiative was developed to help authors identify deceptive publishers, and the Open Access Journal Quality Indicators were created to help authors as well. When in doubt, contact your EMU Library subject librarian.

We think that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, especially given the pace with which academia is changing to embrace Open Access. But it’s understandable if you’ve got career concerns. Luckily, you can make your articles OA without having to publish in a lesser-known OA journal.

Which Open Access Approach Is Best For You?

There’s more than one way to publish open access. In addition to the popularly-known “gold” OA route – publishing in an open access journal – you can also self-archive your traditionally published work (“green OA”) or pay a fee to a traditional, subscription journal to make your paper open access (“hybrid OA”).

Here’s what you need to do for each:

Gold Open Access

Gold open access journals make all of their articles open access immediately. There are many different business models for gold open access publishers.  Some gold OA journals like PLOS Biology and Glossa require that authors pay a publication fee or “article processing charge” upon acceptance for publication. Many gold OA journals don’t charge a fee though (you can find hundreds of them by searching the Directory of Open Access Journals), and most publishers offer fee waivers for those who need financial assistance. With some careful planning, you can also cover gold OA publishing fees by writing the expected fees into a grant budget or by getting assistance from EMU's Faculty Open Access Publishing Fund. We discuss this in more detail below.

Hybrid Open Access

Some subscription journals will allow authors to pay a fee to make their paper open access, even if other papers in the journal are not. This practice is known as “hybrid OA” publishing. Hybrid OA journals allow authors to both publish in a journal that is recognized by their peers, while also reaping the benefits that open access publishing provides. But such fees can be expensive for authors, and the EMU's Faculty Open Access Fund doesn’t cover hybrid journals, because the Libraries are already paying hefty subscription fees to these traditional journals. If you must publish in a hybrid journal because of its perceived prestige, you can consider Green Open Access (more below).

Green Open Access

Green open access is the practice of publishing an article as you normally would in a subscription journal and posting a copy of your article on your website or an institutional repository such as DigitalCommons@EMU. It’s a popular option for those who can’t pay open access fees, but it has two major caveats: embargo periods and the inability to upload the publisher’s pdf of your article.

Often, publisher restrictions mean authors have to wait a year or longer to make their work available via green OA, leading to major delays in the dissemination of their work. And most publishers never allow authors to upload the publisher’s pdf. Instead, they allow uploading the post print (author’s final, submitted manuscript after all peer review and revisions, but before copy editing and layout) or a preprint (author’s final draft before peer review).

Open Access Funds & Fee Waivers

If you decide to go the Gold or Hybrid OA routes but need some help meeting the publication fees, you may have options.

Institution-Based OA Funds

Larger research universities sometimes have funds available for scholars who want to publish OA but can’t afford to pay out of pocket. The fund is sometimes based in the library, and other times it is stewarded by the campus research administration office. Often, there are restrictions as to how much assistance a researcher can request per year.

EMU offers assistance with APC charges through the Faculty Open Access Publishing Fund.

Grant Budgets

If you’re a PI on a grant, you can often write in expected publication fees into your budget. Or if you’re working with a forward-thinking PI, you might ask them to foot the bill out of their grant funds. Given that more and more funding agencies require public access to the research they fund, they’re becoming increasingly amenable to covering such costs. Check with your funding agency’s program officer for more information.

Fee Waivers

Some Gold OA publishers will waive their publication fees for authors who hail from developing countries or who can document financial hardship. Check with your publisher as to whether such waivers are available and what the qualifications are for applying.


This week’s activities are mostly planning for the future. Unless you’ve got an article in the hopper, waiting to be published, you’ll do the following with future publications in mind.

Try one or both of the assignments below.

Activity 1: Research Open Access journals in your field

The best place to start your research is the Directory of Open Access Journals’ listings, which includes only those open access journals that adhere to high quality standards.

Activity 2: Learn more about Open Access funding options

Familiarize yourself with the Faculty Open Access Publishing Fund.

License Statement

Content for this challenge of the Scholarly Impact Challenge has been derived from “The 30-Day Impact Challenge” by Stacy Konkiel © ImpactStory and used here under a CC BY 4.0 International License, and from the OU Impact Challenge, which is licensed CC BY 4.0.