Open access resources are digital publications, including individual scholarly journals, books, and repositories of scholarly works, that are freely accessible on the World Wide Web. The authors of these digital publications grant permission, while still retaining copyright, to allow free, unrestricted access and dissemination of their scholarly works. Full and proper attribution should always be given to an open access resource same as would be given any traditionally published work. Open access resources typically include a Creative Commons license of CC-BY. However, more restrictive licensing (including prohibition against derivative or commercial works) may also be utilized. It is important to read the open access policy statement or Creative Commons license language accompanying any resource you copy, distribute, or re-use in your own work.
A coalition of scholarly publishers and associations collaborated to create this short checklist for authors to refer to when evaluating a journal as a possible place of publication for his research. By asking a few short questions and evaluating the journal according to the checklist, authors can be assured that the journal they are considering, whether subscription based or open access, will be one of quality, rigor, and respect.
When reviewing an open access publisher or journal for quality and legitimacy -- the following should be considered:
1. Peer review process: All of a journal’s content, apart from any editorial material that is clearly marked as such, shall be subjected to peer review. Peer review is defined as obtaining advice on individual manuscripts from reviewers expert in the field who are not part of the journal’s editorial staff. This process, as well as any policies related to the journal’s peer review procedures, shall be clearly described on the journal’s Web site.
2. Governing Body: Journals shall have editorial boards or other governing bodies whose members are recognized experts in the subject areas included within the journal’s scope. The full names and affiliations of the journal’s editors shall be provided on the journal’s Web site.
3. Editorial team/contact information Journals shall provide the full names and affiliations of the journal’s editors on the journal’s web site as well as contact information for the editorial office.
4. Author fees: Any fees or charges that are required for manuscript processing and/or publishing materials in the journal shall be clearly stated in a place that is easy for potential authors to find prior to submitting their manuscripts for review or explained to authors before they begin preparing their manuscript for submission.
5. Copyright: Copyright and licensing information shall be clearly described on the journal’s web site, and licensing terms shall be indicated on all published articles.
6. Identification of and dealing with allegations of research misconduct: Publishers and editors shall take reasonable steps to identify and prevent the publication of papers where research misconduct has occurred, including plagiarism, citation manipulation, and data falsification/fabrication, among others. In no case shall a journal or its editors encourage such misconduct, or knowingly allow such misconduct to take place. In the event that a journal’s publisher or editors are made aware of any allegation of research misconduct relating to a published article in their journal – the publisher or editor shall follow COPE’s guidelines (or equivalent) in dealing with allegations.
7. Ownership and management: Information about the ownership and/or management of a journal shall be clearly indicated on the journal’s web site. Publishers shall not use organizational names that would mislead potential authors and editors about the nature of the journal’s owner.
8. Web site: A journal’s web site, including the text that it contains, shall demonstrate that care has been taken to ensure high ethical and professional standards.
9. Name of journal: The Journal name shall be unique and not be one that is easily confused with another journal or that might mislead potential authors and readers about the Journal’s origin or association with other journals.
10. Conflicts of interest: A journal shall have clear policies on handling potential conflicts of interest of editors, authors, and reviewers and the policies should be clearly stated.
11. Access: The way(s) in which the journal and individual articles are available to readers and whether there are associated subscription or pay per view fees shall be stated.
12. Revenue sources: Business models or revenue sources (eg, author fees, subscriptions, advertising, reprints, institutional support, and organizational support) shall be clearly stated or otherwise evident on the journal’s web site.
13. Advertising: Journals shall state their advertising policy, if relevant, including what types of ads will be considered, who makes decisions regarding accepting ads and whether they are linked to content or reader behavior (online only) or are displayed at random.
14. Publishing schedule: The periodicity at which a journal publishes shall be clearly indicated.
15. Archiving: A journal’s plan for electronic backup and preservation of access to the journal content (for example, access to main articles via CLOCKSS or PubMedCentral) in the event a journal is no longer published shall be clearly indicated.
16. Direct marketing: Any direct marketing activities, including solicitation of manuscripts that are conducted on behalf of the journal, shall be appropriate, well targeted, and unobtrusive.
Additional Reading on Journal Quality: