The Road to OA

Happy New Year

from the Open @ CUNY Team!


If you’re looking to add more open access (OA) to your publishing endeavors in 2018, you can probably accomplish that in more than one way. While it’s great to publish your scholarship in an OA journal, don’t think that’s the only road to OA. If you have to take another road, I think that’s ok too. I took the secondary road to OA myself.


For my very first attempt at publishing in a peer-reviewed journal, I wanted to respond to a call for papers that perfectly matched an article I just started writing. But before I submitted my proposal—being the OA advocate that I am—I looked at how I could squeeze some OA from a journal that not only required a subscription to access its print or electronic version, it was embargoed in our online databases. I didn’t have access to any articles online for that journal until a year-and-a-half after they were published (and we didn’t have a print subscription). OA roadblock!


I did find a detour where the publisher gave authors the option of paying a few thousand dollars to make their articles freely available online (the hybrid OA road). So far, I was not feeling optimistic about the possibility of OA for me from this journal. Would I pass up this otherwise stellar opportunity if there were no OA options open to me?


Before I had to cross that bridge, I turned to the other main route to OA. If the journal itself wasn’t open access (the gold OA road), there was still the possibility of self-archiving in a repository (the green OA road) to investigate. Here road conditions turned favorable. The publisher allowed authors in my discipline to post the accepted manuscript (aka postprint) to an institutional repository—like CUNY Academic Works—without the embargo. Therefore, if I were to publish with this journal, I could submit the version of my article that had been through peer review (but not yet formatted for the issue) immediately upon publication. I could work with that.


I went on to submit my proposal and was accepted for the special issue (I told you it was a perfect fit). When my article is published, you can bet my postprint will be up in Academic Works and free for anyone to read not long after. My road to OA wasn’t the one I preferred, but I didn’t hesitate to take an alternate route. I will arrive at my destination in the end.

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