The Good and the Bad of Open Access Journals

The pros and cons of open access journals have always been a topic of debate amongst scholars and publishers. A recent piece of news states that open-access index delists thousands of journals.Cource CorrectionBut on the other hand, in a dramatic statement, European leaders call for ‘immediate ‘open access to all scientific papers by 2020.

The discussions related to open access journals have varied from enthusiasm to a new business model to active lobbying against open–access proposals. Though open-access is widely recognised in making research results more accessible, it is not without its opponents. Those opposing open-access model are of the view that it is a very complicated issue, especially for smaller players in the world of publication.

Those advocating open–access do so for the following benefits:

  • Freely available for all
    The main advantage of open access journals is that it is free and available for anyone who wishes to read them. No payment is to be made for an individual article or journal subscription, so it is very beneficial to libraries and readers.
  • Increased Readership
    Open access has given more options for an article to be discovered online. Authors benefit from open access as it can help open up their research to a wider audience. An increased number of readers will result in increased number of citations for the author. Free access to scientific knowledge strengthens education, research and development.
  • Free access for researchers in developing countries
    Open access publishing gives free access to researchers in low income countries and small or specialized research institutions. It provides the scientists in such countries the opportunity to participate in international research community.
  • Takes less time to be published
    As open access articles are published sooner than articles in non-open access journals, they reach a wider audience and it enhances visibility of the articles published.Those opposing open-access state the following reasons:
  • Publication Fees
    Even though the end user doesn’t have to pay to read an open access article, someone has to bear the costs of publication. Usually it is the author who covers the cost. In times of austerity, researchers may be discouraged from opting for open access.
  • Lack of quality control
    Open access journals do not have the same established reputation as conventional journals. Open access model encourages journals to publish more articles. As large portion of the revenue comes from publication fees, authors may be discouraged from publishing more articles and it may have a negative impact on the overall quality.
  • Sustainability
    Those opposing open access model, assert that pay-for-access model is necessary to ensure that authors are adequately compensated for their work. Maintaining a scholarly reputation, arranging peer review and editing articles require sufficient economic resources, that is not possible under an open access model.


Inspite of all its disadvantages, open access model is still the most sought after option.

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