I heard somewhere that publishing in open access (OA) journals is not a good strategy and such papers may be less valuable (specially for who want to apply for a PhD program in EU and North America)! However, I think this is not a strong remark but publishing in low level and paid journals form unknown publishers is thought to be less constructive for the resume. Specifically, I mean journals and magazines by highly esteemed publishers such as Elsevier, Springer and Hindawi.

What's the fact about OA journals?

  • @eilia, dont worry not all open access journals are the same, mpdi, PLOS and scietific report are OK.
    – SSimon
    Jun 16, 2018 at 16:17
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    FWIW, MDPI is considered a predatory compnany by some as is Hindawi. Jun 16, 2018 at 16:23
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    Some OA journals are garbage. Others are respectable. Jun 16, 2018 at 16:32
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    @RichardErickson - the article you linked actually has this to say about HIndawi - 'Imperfect English or a predominantly non-Western editorial board does not make a journal predatory. An interesting example is Hindawi, an Egyptian publisher once considered predatory that improved its practices and standards over time.' Your comment therefore seems misleading. Jun 18, 2018 at 4:20
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    This question is similar to asking whether a degree from a public university is worth less than one from a private university. There is no general answer; you can only compare specific entities, since there are good and bad examples from either group. Jun 23, 2018 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


Strategically, it gives better chances to aim for journal that are recognized by your peers. This need not be related to openness of the journal, but it is true that there are fewer well-recognized OA journals than subscription journals. Ask around (to several peoples, taste can vary in a field).

Do not forget that you can in many cases publish green Open-Access (self-deposit into an Open repository) your manuscript even if you publish at a paywalled journal. This gives a good compromise between openness and strategy for beginning careers. Information about what you can do publisher by publisher and journal by journal is available at Sherpa/Romeo.

Last remark: judging a paper by the journal it is published in is quite bold, but judging it by the publisher of said journal is far worse. Elsevier has crappy journals in its portfolio, as most publishers do.

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    To add to this, not all open access journals are equal. Just the same way that not all journals are equal. An established organization that decides to start an open access journal due to demand from that organization's members is quite different from a fresh start up open access journal.
    – JWH2006
    Jun 18, 2018 at 14:24

Your question is really broad. I suggest reading e.g. the Wikipedia article on open access to get some sense on what it's about.

Traditional journals operate by subscriptions. They publish articles, and would-be readers must subscribe to be able to read them (or they can buy individual articles, which is similar). This model has been criticized for making it difficult to disseminate academic knowledge. After all, if you can't pay, you can't read the paper either and so won't be able to build on that work. Since academic publishing costs money, someone has to pay, and OA proposes to make that "someone" the authors. The authors pay the publishers, who then makes the articles available for free.

The main problem with OA is that it introduces a conflict of interest. Since the publisher makes money every time it accepts a paper, it (and by extension the editorial board) is incentivized to accept papers. This has led to so-called predatory open access publishers, who basically accept everything that's submitted with no thought for quality control. Subscription journals cannot do this because if they publish junk people won't subscribe, but OA journals can.

That is not to say that all open access articles are junk or that all open access publishers are predatory, but you can imagine the tension. Not helpful is that some people consider X predatory while others do not. Hindawi and MDPI are examples. Both were listed by Jeffrey Beall (the authority on predatory OA publishing before he retired) as predatory at some point, but they also had vocal defenders.

Practically speaking, open access papers do have more usage than subscription ones, but whether that translates to more citations is hotly debated. Whether or not to publish open access is up to you, and possibly your funding agency.

  • What I have read, although I can not offer bibliographic references, is that the publisher charges for an accepted article and requires a transfer of copyrights to the publisher. That is the source of the dissatisfaction that motivates the trend towards free access journals.
    – djnavas
    Jun 19, 2018 at 6:27
  • @djnavas authors usually retain the copyright for an open access article. It's not normal for a publisher to simultaneously charge for OA and require a transfer of copyright.
    – Allure
    Jun 19, 2018 at 6:33
  • "Thanks to the great success of OA publishing, many conventional print publishers now offer a so-called ‘Open Access option’, i.e. to make accepted articles free to read for an additional payment by the authors. The copyright in these hybrid models might remain with the publisher, whilst fully OA usually provide a liberal license, such as the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0, creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)." Albert Krewinkel in "Formatting Open Science: agilely creating multiple document formats for academic manuscripts with Pandoc Scholar".
    – djnavas
    Jun 20, 2018 at 7:44
  • Some OA journals do not require authors of any APC. What about them?
    – Eilia
    Jul 10, 2018 at 15:00

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