So, you want to make your work open access? Here are your options!
Authors of academic works have options for making their work openly available, many of which don't involve paying fees. This page explains a wide range of options.
Paying a fee is not the only option!
Some open access (OA) options involve paying a fee ("article processing charge" or APC.) Many authors think of APCs as the only way to make an article open, but there are far more options that do not involve fees.
Some journals require APCs for every article, and all articles in those journals are open. Other journals have optional fees—an article is only open if the fee is paid ("hybrid" access.)
APCs now span an extremely broad range of prices; some fully open journals have much lower fees than some hybrid journals. APCs were once considered the best path to move to a fully OA publication system, but we encourage authors to think more critically about whether APCs are the best strategy personally, or for academic publishing on a bigger scale.
Some journals that charge fees have fee waiver programs for authors with no funding available. Waivers are more likely to be available for authors from low- and middle-income countries.
Always check for fees before you submit, so you don't end up in over your head!
Is your work funded by a US federal government department or agency? You may be required to make your work publicly available. Other major research funders also have public access requirements (see the Other funding agencies section). You can often meet these requirements without paying an APC.
The rest of this page is about options for making your work available that don’t involve paying APCs.
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Share your article as an open preprint
It is increasingly common for authors to share versions of their articles openly online, through various services (usually specific to academic disciplines or areas of research) such as preprint servers.
Practices around preprints are still evolving and vary widely across disciplines, publishers, and countries. In many cases, preprints can be left up even after the article is accepted for publication in a journal.
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Publish in an OA journal that has no fees
Some fully-open journals do not charge author fees. The University Libraries host several all-open, no-fee journals. Also, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) contains information about more than 16,000 fully OA journals. You can search DOAJ to find journals by subject area and filter to see only journals that do not charge a fee—70% of journals do not!
The Libraries participate in collective action models in which any author, regardless of their institutional affiliation, can publish at no cost. Publishers using this model include
- Amsterdam University Press
- Annual Reviews
- Berghahn Journals
- Canadian Science Publishing
- EDP Sciences
- EMS Press
- IWA Publishing
- MSP- Mathematical Sciences Publishers
- Pluto Journals
The Libraries have a number of agreements in place that eliminate APCs for UMN authors. These are listed on Libraries partnerships for open access.
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Share at no cost following publishers’ rules
Many publishers have standing policies that allow authors to share some version of their article online, though sometimes with conditions or restrictions.
Often these permissions refer to three versions of an article:
- Preprint or Submitted version often refers to the version of the article that is initially submitted to the journal, pre-peer review.
- Author-accepted manuscript (or just accepted manuscript) often refers to the final text of the article, after revisions to address comments from peer reviews are completed. It is often the last version of the article that the authors send, prior to receiving page proofs. Sometimes this is referred to as a “post-print” but that term can be used in a variety of ways and may not always refer to the author-accepted manuscript.
- Final or Published version often refers to the publisher-produced PDF of the article—after journal-specific formatting is applied.
Many publishers also limit the venues in which authors can share their articles: most allow sharing in institutionally-hosted (such as the University Digital Conservancy) or disciplinary repositories; some require that the repository be non-commercial. Some only allow authors to share on a “personal webpage,”not a personal page on a commercial social networking site like Academia.edu or ResearchGate (read more about academic social networks). A few publishers allow authors to post anywhere online.
Publishers may also require time-delays (“embargos”) when sharing. Sometimes they have different embargos for different versions of the article, or for different sharing venues. For example, a journal may allow authors to share their accepted manuscript on a personal website immediately, but delay any other sharing of the author-accepted manuscript until 12 months after the final version is published.
Deciding where to publish? Check SHERPA/RoMEO to explore publishers’ policies and select one that lines up with your plans for sharing.
Has your paper already been published? There are two things you can do!
Check SHERPA/RoMEO to see which version of your article you might be able to share, where, and when.
If your article has a DOI, shareyourpaper.org is another option for checking publisher’s rules for that particular article. If sharing is permitted by the journal, shareyourpaper enables direct upload to an open access repository called Zenodo, which uses Creative Commons licenses to enable reuse of your paper
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Maintain control; share how you want
Publishers' policies about sharing can be complicated, and may not address all the ways an author might want to reuse their work. If you want clarity and certainty about how you can reuse and share your work, you can negotiate with your publisher to retain some of your rights under copyright law.
This kind of negotiation can be fairly easy if one of the authors addenda developed by the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) or by author advocacy group SPARC covers your interests. Check out our info on "Owning and managing academic rights" for more in-depth information about your rights, using the addenda, and negotiation.
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Use the “Open Access to Scholarly Articles” policy
For UMN employees who produce research articles, the UMN Open Access to Scholarly Articles policy enables another path to sharing articles produced after January 1, 2015. That policy grants the University a limited right to share articles for the purposes of open access.
If an author has not waived application of the policy, they can choose to rely on the policy to make their eligible articles available through the University (usually in the University Digital Conservancy) However, this policy can be in conflict with publisher policies, so authors may wish to consult with us at firstname.lastname@example.org before heading down this path.
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If you still really want to publish in a journal that requires an APC
You can try to reduce or eliminate APC fees:
- The University of Minnesota Libraries participates in a number of agreements that reduce or eliminate the APC for articles with the corresponding author from University of Minnesota. Find a list at Libraries partnerships for open access.
- Publish in a journal with a low (or more reasonably priced) APC - journal websites, as well as listings in Sherpa/Romeo or DOAJ will show fees.
- You can ask the publisher to waive your APC. But be careful! If you are going to ask for a waiver, do that before you agree to pay any fees you can’t afford. (Click-through forms or signed agreements may show up as early as the first step in submitting your article. If you click to submit an agreement, the publisher can enforce it even if they don’t waive your APC.)
Remember to always check for fees ahead of time, so you don't end up in over your head!
And contact email@example.com for info/assistance.
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