Open Access Journals
Also popularly referred to as scholarly journals, open access journals are available on the Internet for all the readers, without any technical, legal or financial barriers other than a reader’s ability to connect to the Internet itself. These open access journals get rid of the price barriers like pay-per-view fees, licensing fees, subscription fee and more, and a large majority of permission barriers like licensing restrictions, copyright restrictions and more. Although these journals are available for free to the readers, there are still certain costs associated with their publication and production. While a large majority of them are subsidized in nature, some require the readers to make a nominal payment to the author.
Some of these journals are subsidized and financed by learned societies, academic institutions and even government information centers. Others gain their financing through article processing charges by the submitting authors. The money for these purposes is normally made available to the researchers through their funding agencies or institutions. Many a times, these two models are termed as ‘platinum’ and ‘gold’ respectively for emphasizing their distinction. In other cases, the term ‘gold’ open access journal is used for referring to both unpaid and paid open access journals.
If we talk about the statistics of the year 2009, there were around 4800 open access journals operating actively at that time, responsible for publishing close to 190,000 scholarly articles. As per the figures of October 2015, their number had gone over to 10,000 active open access journals, all of them listed with the Directory of Open Access Journals. Citation indexes like SSCI, SCI and AHSCI carried out a study of the random journals in the year 2013 and came to the conclusion that 88% of online journals were closed access, while only 12% of them were open access.
The extent of openness of these journals
Open access journals can be of various types, such as full open access journals wherein all the content can be accessed openly, hybrid open access journals wherein you can access only a part of the content openly and delayed open access journals wherein you’re allowed access to the content only after a certain delay of 12 to 24 months.
Please keep in mind that open access journals are merely one of the two popularly used methods for creating open access to scholarly content. The other method, commonly referred to as ‘Green Road to Open Access’ as against the ‘Gold Road’ that we talked about above, is the method of self-archiving inside a repository. The name given to the publishers who provide open access journals is ‘open access publishers’, and the process per se is referred to as ‘open access publishing’.
Identification of open access journals
Open access journals can be accessed through different directories, DOAJ being the most prominent of them all. All these directories have their own respective standards which determine the journals included in them. Articles that make it to the majority of open access journals are also included in standard bibliographic databases of their respective subjects, for instance PubMed. The ones which have established themselves over a long period of time and are believed to have a certain impact factor, and are otherwise qualified, make it to the Scopus and Web of Science. DOAJ indexes the individual articles in few but not all of the various journals that it consists of.