A Few Things to Know About Open Access: Guest Post by Amy Blevins, MALS

Hey, here’s an outstanding guest post by Amy Blevins, MALS. She’s one of the Clinical Education Librarians at Hardin Library for the Health Sciences. This post is about open access publishing and there is a wealth of specific information to guide academicians in medicine and psychiatry about how and where to get research published. Get in the groove with open access–The Geezer.

Many people have heard about open access. You might remember seeing Dr. James Amos’s previous post, Open the Door to Open Access Journals.  After that post was published, I was asked to write a blog with some more in-depth information about the topic.

If you live in the world of academia, you recognize the importance of publishing for a variety of reasons. Some faculty members are required to publish for tenure and promotions. Publishing is also important to get the word out to colleagues and the public about research that’s being done in a variety of venues.  Deciding where to publish is often the trickiest part.  The first step is identifying journals that cover your topic.  You can often find journals through resources like JANE or by doing an advanced search on Ulrichsweb: Global Serials Directory (a library subscribed database). Of course, you can also talk to your librarian for more information.

Once you figure out which journals would potentially accept your article, you need to find the best fit for you. One thing to consider is how widely your article will be distributed by a particular journal. Also, where is the journal indexed?  Will people find it via PubMed, CINAHL, PsycInfo, or another resource? Will users have access to the article once they find it?

Speaking of where to publish, it is wise to consider an open access journal.  These journals are freely available to anyone with an internet connection.  As mentioned in Open the Door to Open Access Journals, there is a common misperception that open access journals are vanity publishing or that they are easier to get into. That is not necessarily true. Some fairly big names in medical publishing are open access. You may be familiar with BioMedCentral or PLoS. Both of these publishers offer their articles free to the public, but they aren’t the only open access options out there. You can find a list of almost all open access journals through DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Publishers.

Keep in mind that open access means free to the consumer.  There are still costs associated with producing an article. Articles have to be edited, peer-reviewed, formatted, and other things, and that costs money. When a journal goes open access, they have to find another way to subsidize those costs.  This could be another consideration when determining where you’d like to publish. You might consider writing in the cost to publish in an open access journal into your grant. Remember that having your article freely available online will allow a wider audience to have access to your research and published work.  As with most things, there are people looking to take advantage of the open access movement. Be sure to check out the information on “Predatory Publishers” to avoid unprofessional/unethical organizations.

If you’ve already published your research or you plan to publish in a non-open access journal while still sharing your research freely with the world, the Iowa Research Online Repository (IRO) is one of the options available.  The IRO is a place where authors can place either the full article or a pre-print of their article so that it is available everywhere and anywhere.  Make sure you follow the rules stipulated by the original journal before depositing articles, though. You can find out more by looking over the links at the end of this blog post. You might also be familiar with PubMed Central. This repository contains articles from many big name journals like BMJ, JAMA, and more.  Many of these articles are included due to the NIH Public Access Policy that requires authors to deposit articles containing information derived from NIH funded research to be placed in PubMed Central within a year of their publication date. Look for author information on the publisher’s website to find out more about publishing criteria.

I hope this has helped to peak your interest in open access and in scholarly communication issues.  If so, you might be interested in a few of these resources for additional information.

Transitions: Scholarly Communication News for the UI Community

Transforming Scholarly Communication LibGuide

Iowa Research Online: FAQ

SERPA/RoMEO  (This site allows authors to find copyright and self-archiving policies for different journals)


Author: Jim Amos

Dr. James J. Amos is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the UI Carver College of Medicine at The University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. Dr. Amos received a B. S. degree in Distributed Studies (Zoology, Chemistry, and Microbiology) in 1985 from Iowa State University and an M.D. from The University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa in 1992. He completed his psychiatry residency, including a year as Chief Resident, in 1996 at the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Iowa. He has co-edited a practical book about consultation psychiatry with Dr. Robert G. Robinson entitled Psychosomatic Medicine: An Introduction to Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. As a clinician educator, among Dr. Amos’s most treasured achievements is the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award.