There are a lot of jargons used in the field of scientific publishing and there are very explanations on those. As an introduction to this article, let us ask you a few questions,
Have you completed your research, if yes have you published it?
If you have published, to whom it is visible?
Do you have any idea on how to ensure all interested readers read your paper?
You may have an understanding of the existing journals that are applicable to your study and you may also know the technical process of submitting papers to journals. However, it is important to know what the available access options are.
In the field of publication, widely spoken buzzwords when it comes to journals are Open Access and Subscription-based journals.
On many journal web pages, you will find whether the journal is an Open Access journal, Subscription-based journal or adopt both types. However, there is very little known for the authors what these different types are.
You might be wondering what the difference between these two is and what brings more benefits. This write-up is to provide you with a basic understanding of this.
WHAT IS MEANT BY SUBSCRIPTION BASED/ CLOSED ACCESS JOURNALS?
There are certain journals which operate as subscription-based journals. What is meant here is that the readers (Researchers, Students following degree programs, Education Institutes, Policymakers etc) have to subscribe to the journal by paying a fee which is often known as Subscription fee. There can be individual subscribers as well as institutional subscribers. Since the fee is passed on to readers, authors will not be paying any fee to the journals. The speciality here is that only subscribers (readers who have paid a fee and subscribed) can view the “Full Papers” and others who have not subscribed can only view the abstract (A summary) of a published paper. This is also termed as closed access by some in the field.
So, your full paper will not reach to all the interested readers. Which means it is likely that only a few others will be citing or referencing your published work.
WHAT IS MEANT BY OPEN ACCESS JOURNALS?
Unlike subscription-based journals, there is no such thing as “subscription” for readers when it comes to Open Access journals. Readers do not have to incur any expense to read/access the full text of published papers. Nowadays many journals are going Open Access. Here, in order to reap the benefits of Open Access publications, authors will have to invest a certain amount as Article Processing Charges. With this brief understanding let us look at the benefits of open access to authors and readers.
As we discussed above, there is no cost for readers to access the full text of published papers under Open Access Publishing. This will definitely empower readers to refer your published work and read through your interesting outcomes. Further, it will increase the number of reads, citations and downloads of your paper.
An abstract could only talk about your study up to a certain limit. Making your paper available on an Open Access Platform is creating better reach.
As we discussed citations, you might wonder why it is so important. Citations are very important to strengthen the academic profile. Your h-index and academic credibility will be constructed upon the number of times others have cited and referenced your publications.
Moreover, you can highlight yourself as a researcher/author by getting known to a wider community. This will help you to come up with amazing collaborations with other researchers.
And for your information, many open access journals use metrics to track the number of citations, reads and downloads for published papers (Eg: PlumX by Elsevier)
Some of the publication platforms offer a mix of above two options. Some journals even have different categories of Open Access Options (Eg: Green Open Access) where authors can convert their publication from closed access to open access.
Of course, to reap these benefits of Open Access Publishing, authors will have to invest a certain amount of funds, however, this is for the betterment of you as an author and for a wider readership. However, do not worry, in many cases, authors are able to find different funding sources for this.
If future many of the papers will go Open Access and as authors, it is up to you to select the best option. Remember, you will never regret publishing in an open-access platform (journal).