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Guides & Tutorial, Pao-yue Kong Library, The Polytechnic University of Hong Kong

Open Access: OA Publishing

This guide provides information and resources in open access and scholarly publishing.

OA Journals

Publishing your work open access provides unrestricted access and reuse of your research outputs. Traditionally, readers pay for the access, though the payment is usually covered through library subscriptions. However, even the richest library is now facing the budget problem with the ever-increasing subscription costs (The Guardian, 2012). This is why OA comes in as it removes this price barrier. Some OA journals will ask authors to pay an APC to make their articles freely available online. The APC is usually be covered by institutions or funders.

There are two types of OA journals: (Pure) OA journals, and hybrid OA journals.

OA Journals Hybrid OA Journals

The journal only provides OA content. (Gold OA)

e.g., PLoS, BMC journals

The journal is a traditional, subscription-based journal, which provides an option for authors to pay extra to make article available on a Gold OA basis, or self-archive the article (Green OA) without paying extra but the article will become available after an embargo period. (What are Gold OA and Green OA? Check this table)

e.g., Springer Open AccessTaylor & Francis Open Access

Below lists the OA policies from major publishers. Some run both pure OA journals and hybrid OA journals. Some also offer Green OA option. 

OA Journals Quality Indicators

Like traditional journals, OA journals also have good quality and bad quality ones. There is no single criterion that determines whether or not a journal is reputable and of good quality. The following table presents a list of both positive and negative indicators, which will guide you through this evaluation. Contact us if you need any assistance.

OA Journal Quality Indicators, adapted from Grand Valley State University Libraries.
  Positive Indicators X   Negative Indicators

►  Journal:

  • Scope - well-defined and clearly stated
  • Primary audience - researchers/practitioners
  • Editor, Editorial Board - recognized experts in the field
  • Background - affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly society or academic institution
  • Publishing fees (if any) - easily found on the journal website and clearly explained
  • Copyright policy - clearly indicate the rights for use and re-use of content at article level (e.g., Creative Commons CC-BY license)
  • Has an ISSN (e.g., 1234-5678)
  • Registered in UlrichsWeb, Global Serials Directory
  • Listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • Indexed by major subject databases

►  Articles published:

  • Within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
  • Have DOIs (e.g., DOI:10.1006/abio.1996.0292)

►  Publisher:


  • Website - difficult to locate or identify
  • Scope absent or extremely vague
  • Editorial Board - real researchers but names are used without their knowledge
  • Instructions to authorsnot available
  • Indexing - falsely claim that the journal is indexed in prestigious professional indexes (e.g. SCIE, SSCI); misrepresent the Impact Factor of the journal
  • Submission fee - ask for submission fee and not refundable
  • Peer review - no peer-review, or unclearly stated
  • Contact information - absent, or using a commercial email domain (e.g.,

  Articles published:

  • Out of scope of the journal
  • Repeat lead authors in same issue


  • Office location - fake or misrepresent (e.g., headquarter in New York but eventually in Nigeria)
  • Direct marketing (i.e., spamming) or other unsolicited advertising
  • Negative reputation (check Beall's list of potential predatory OA journals and publishers)

►  Think. Check. Submit.


Think. Check. Submit. is a campaign to help researchers identify trusted journals for their research. It is a simple checklist researchers can use to assess the credentials of a journal or publisher.

►  Quality Open Access Market (QOAM)

QOAM is another tool to help you quickly check opinions on OA journals. It uses Base Score Card to score the transparency of a journal’s website with respect to four critical journal aspects: Editorial information, Peer review, Governance and Workflow. It also provides price information given by both the journal's website and the authors who published with the journal.

OA Repositories

Depositing a copy of your publication in OA repositories is another way to share your work. There are both institutional repository and subject-specific repositories. Be aware that different repositories deal with different copyright policies. Check OA Copyright for more information.

►  Institutional OA repository:

►  Subject-specific OA repositories:

To search for more OA repositories, go to OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories, an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories).

PolyU OA Membership

BioMed Central

PolyU School of Nursing is a member of BioMed Central (BMC). This means that research staff and students of School of Nursing can publish in any BMC journals based on membership prices.

Springer Open

PolyU School of Nursing is a member of the SpringerOpen. This means that research staff and students of School of Nursing can enjoy a discount when publishing in SpringerOpen journals.


PolyU Library is one of the member libraries of JULAC, which is a partner of SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics). This means that PolyU authors can publish in any SCOAP3 journals at no direct cost.

Funder's OA Policies

Check SHERPA/JULIET database to find out the funders' policies regarding OA publishing and OA archiving.


Version of a Publication

Pre-print, Post-print, Published version

preprint   "before peer review"

A "pre-print" is any version prior to peer review and publication, usually the version submitted to a journal.

postprint   "accepted after peer review"

A "post-print" or "accepted manuscript" is any version approved by peer review. Sometimes it's important to distinguish two kinds of post-print: (a) those that have been peer-reviewed but not copy-edited and (b) those that have been both peer-reviewed and copy-edited. Some journals give authors permission to deposit the first but the not the second kind in an OA repository.

published   "accepted and formatted"

A "published" version is the final formatted, published version. Most publishers do not allow this version to be self-archived, while some allow - given that an embargo period is set (usually 6, 12 or 24 months after publishing).

(Source: Open Access Overview by Peter Suber)

PolyU Institutional Research Archive accepts the deposit of post-print or accepted manuscript, including modifications based on referees' suggestions but before the publisher’s copy editing and formatting. Check Sherpa-RoMEO database to find out the publisher or journal policies towards self-archiving.