How to become an open access journal publisher

How to become an open access journal publisher

Journal publishers can follow The Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing created and continually updated by scholarly organisations COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics), DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals), OASPA, (the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association) and WAME (the World Association of Medical Editors). The latest version available is Version 4.0 published in September 2022

Key features of open access journal publishing:

Types of open access

At first, deciding what type of open access the journal will offer is important. Three options can also be combined.

Gold OA

Green OA

Diamond/platinum OA

Financial policy and funding of OA journals

There are two options for funding an OA journal:

  • A journal funds free-of-charge access to articles by charging article processing charges (APCs)
  • A journal funds free-of-charge access to articles from other resources

Article processing/publishing charges (APCs)

APCs are paid by the papers’ authors or the institutions they represent. An APC can cover the publisher’s costs completely or partially depending on the budget structure of the journal and general standards.

Optional APCs–authors can decide whether they pay it or not.

Examples of OA journals charging APCs:

The Slovak Republic:

The Czech Republic:

Optional APCs (optional open access, hybrid OA journals):

APCs waivers and discounts:

A publisher can adjust the amount of an APC through a scheme of waivers and discounts, for example, if an author buys a printed publication from the publisher etc.

For more information on alternative funding of an OA journal, go to OA journal business models.

Open access mandates 

OA mandates are policies adopted by research institutions, universities or funders that require researchers to provide mandatory open access to their published research if it was publicly funded (mandatory policy). In Slovakia, for example, it is a mandatory policy to publish research results funded by the Horizon Europe programme in open access. A mandatory policy can require a gold or green OA route. An OA journal should publish what institutions and mandatory policies it supports and follows (Compliance with Open Access Mandates).


Intellectual property rights (copyright, licences)

A type of licence (licences), accepted by a journal, that protects authors’ rights and defines the reader’s rights. For example, a public licence determines what a reader is entitled to do with published texts. In open access, the licences used most often are Creative Commons licenses as they are most clear and understood internationally.

It is an author who assigns a Creative Commons license to their work. However, the publisher has to make it publically clear what type of licences they accept from authors. 

Graphical representations/images of accepted licences have to be published on the journal`s website for authors to know what type of licences the journal accepts and for readers to learn how they can use the texts published in the journal.

For more information on intellectual property rights, go to WIPO.

OA journal website: points to consider

Standard basic information about the journal:

  • The names of the editorial board members, contact details of the journal editors, instructions for authors, detailed information on the publishing process and information on compliance with publishing ethics.

Content layout and format on the website

  • To design how the different parts of the journal will be arranged on the website (articles, reviews, datasets etc.);
  • To define the content format to be used (HTML, PDF, XML);
  • To lay out the website: the website of an OA journal is a gateway to its content. Its design has to be simple and clear; 
  • To state that an article is in open access in the article itself (including the pdf version that can be printed);
  • To publish detailed information on intellectual property rights (copyright) that the journal requires/accepts.

Content description (metadata)

  • A good data description (data describing a digital object, metadata) is essential in order to secure the OA journal visibility;
  • They can contain a simple name of the source information but also more complex data, such as funding information;
  • Compatibility of metadata with the OAI-PMH protocol makes information retrieval easier. The OAI-PMH (the Open Archive Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) is a mechanism for repository interoperability, harvesting metadata in repositories etc.

For more information on the OAI-PMH, go to

Instructions for authors

An OA journal makes fundamental points of its policy public:

  • Licences it accepts;
  • Journal`s business model (APCs, a payment method, other payment options for article publication, waivers and discounts etc.);
  • If the event of the green OA route, the author`s obligations related to archiving (an embargo period on published articles, the repository type);
  • Institutional policies supported by the journal

OA journal promotion

Promoting the OA journal among scientists, prospective authors, online intermediaries and the general public is a key to the success of an OA journal. If you want the content of your journal to be discovered timely and purposefully, here are some useful tips on how to achieve it:


Networking has proven to be the most successful tool to foster potential authors to publish in a selected journal and promote the journal. The editors should build a network of contacts in their communities; they should not only try to attract new authors but also raise awareness of open access in general (researchers are often suspicious of open access). The academic world is still relatively closed, so a recommendation from their community overcomes the most complex marketing practices.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier/Digital Identifier of an Object)

A form of persistent and clear identification. It enables unambiguous identification of a digital publication in any digital environment. A string of components linked with the publication metadata describing the given object.

For more information, go to DOI

Online search engines, registries, databases and repositories

These tools form the basis of marketing for all OA publications. The recommended tools include:

Directory of Open Access Journals

A well-known online indexing open access, peer-reviewed journals.

Google Scholar
A free web search engine indexing full texts or metadata of scientific and professional literature. 

Online information databases

A decision about the inclusion of your journal will not be granted immediately; it can take several weeks after applying (with citation databases such as Web of Science or Scopus, it can even take years); therefore, you should ask for indexation in time. A journal has to meet strict requirements to be included in the citation databases Web of Science or Scopus.

For more information, go to:

Open access repositories

Another way to promote your journal is to archive it in a publically accessible repository.

Article-level publicity

Researcher judge articles on their novelty and the value of the information they bring. You can select the most original and latest articles from the newest issue and inform a scientific community about them: place them on social networks such as Facebook or Instagram or social networks for scientists and academics such as ResearchGate, etc.