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Scholarly Communication


'Gold' Open Access is the term used when a publisher makes the work openly available at publication. This can be through a fully Open Access journal (which often, but not always, have article processing charges) or by making a single article Open Access in an otherwise subscription journal. These are called 'hybrid'  journals and they always impose an article processing charge.

If you are a Cambridge researcher publishing an article resulting from research funded by the RCUK or the Wellcome Trust through its Charities Open Access Fund (COAF), then the Open Access Service can faciliate payment on your behalf. Simply submit your accepted manuscript

The Cambridge University Open Access Policy Framework recommends Green OA (self-archiving) as the most cost-effective, sustainable way to achieve greater public access to research outputs and supports Green OA through the development of its institutional repository, or through subject based repositories and other open websites. There are no centralised University funds to pay for Open Access. Researchers who are unfunded are welcome to make their work Open Access by submitting their author's accepted manuscript to the Open Access Service who will make the work available in the University repository in accordance with publisher policies.

Value for money?

There is no direct correlation between the amount of the article processing charge and the journal impact factor - as demonstrated by Andrew Theo (2012) "Gold Open Access: Counting the Costs", published in Ariadne, 3 December. There is also no direct correlation between the amount of the article processing charge and the cost of production - see Stephen Pinfield (2013) "Is scholarly publishing going from crisis to crisis?" published in Learned Publishing, Volume 26 (2).

The Wellcome Trust in its March 2014 Open Access Publishing - A progress report stated that "that the average APC levied by the traditional subscription publishers (eg: Elsevier, Wiley, NPG) is significantly higher than that charged by the born-digital open access publishers, like PLOS." Similarly, the March 2015 Review of the implementation of the RCUK Policy on Open Access found that the article processing charges for hybrid Open Access were 'consistently more expensive' than fully OA journals, 'despite the fact that hybrid journals still enjoyed a revenue stream through subscriptions'.

Alternative ways to assess value in journals

Recently some new ways have opened up to assess the value that authors receive for their contribution (both in terms of contribution of content and contribution through subscriptions and article processing charges). Here is a small sample.

JournalGuide For biomedical researchers JournalGuide provides a matching service for authors to help them identify the right journal for their article. Information includes details about the journal's scope, speed of  rejection or approval, publication speed and cost plus the journal's Open Access policy.
Quality Open Access Market A European initiative, Quality Open Access Market aims to provide 'Journal Score Cards' ranking quality of service against price and also lists the publication fees of journals. Authors input rankings on Editorial information, peer review, process and governance.
Journal Openness Index In Librarian, Heal Thyself: A Scholarly Commnunication Analysis of LIS Journals, Micah Vandegrifth and Chealsye Bowley propose a new metric to rank journals - the Journal Openness Index - which grades journals on how 'open' they are.
Principles of Transparency The DOAJ, together with the Committee on Publication Ethics, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association and the World Association of Medical Editors have collaborated to produce these Principles which cover things to look out for - from peer review to licensing information.


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