Open access

What is OA publishing?

In the traditional scholarly publishing model, publishers charge the reader for access, either through a journal subscription, by pay-per-view or by the cost of purchasing or accessing a book or book chapter. There is a global movement to make research openly available without these traditional paywalls, allowing anyone to read scholarly works, regardless of their location or ability to pay.

Open Access (OA) publishing is...

  • online and digital
  • without cost to access
  • peer reviewed research
  • compliant with copyright legislation
  • free of access barriers created by financial, legal or technical issues

OA publishing is not

  • self-publishing
  • backyard publishing
  • free or no cost publishing


Open Access - Publishing Power Hour video

Open Access can provide significant benefits to the community, to you and your research.

1. Open access may be a requirement of your funding agreement

A significant driver behind the Open Access philosophy is public access to publicly funded research. The Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) both require research outputs arising from ARC/NHMRC funded projects be made openly available within 12 months from the date of publication. Read more about funder mandates below.

2. Open access could increase the impact of your research
Increasing the visibility and exposure of your research creates potential for a higher number of citations. You can read more about OA citation advantage on the Open Access Australasia website. OA publishing also creates an opportunity to reach practitioners and policy makers who may not otherwise have access to the published scholarly research.

3. Open access will remove barriers to accessing your research
Maximising the dissemination of your research by removing cost barriers provides access to anyone with an internet connection. This can assist researchers in developing countries and ensure the public can access your findings.

4. Open access allows research institutions to showcase their research outputs

Institutions can make their research output visible earlier in the process instead of waiting for publishers to decide when this can be shared or made publicly available.

Green OA
Where the author publishes a paper or book with a commercial publisher and then makes a version of the paper available in an open access digital research repository, such as Curtin espace. The process should be free of charge and ensures permanent access but may involve an embargo period as prescribed by publisher policies. Learn more from our Guide to espace.

Gold/Hybrid OA
Where the author publishes in an open access or hybrid journal and the article is freely available from publisher’s website. Some journals will publish for free but many levy an Article Processing Charge (APC) or Book Publishing charge (BPC) that can range from the equivalent of a couple of hundred dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Diamond OA
Where the open access publisher charges neither author nor subscription fees. These journals tend to be smaller, are often based around a university press and often publish in other languages. Many are not listed on directories such as DOAJ.

Transformative/Read and Publish agreements
Where University Libraries negotiate with publishers to allow free OA publishing in subscribed journals, essentially transforming their current subscription payments into payments which support OA publishing. This does away with “double dipping” where Libraries pay a journal subscription and authors also pay for APC’s.

Read more about Curtin’s Read and Publish agreements in the OA@Curtin guide.


Transformative Agreements: A Primer

The OA Diamond journals study

There can be a range of costs associated with publishing open access.

  • Many OA journals and hybrid journals levy an Article Processing Charge (APC) on the author. These can range from hundreds to many thousands of dollars.
  • Similarly, many OA book publishers levy a Book Processing Charge (BPC) - some charges can be in the vicnity of $20,000.

There are, however, book and journal publishers who fund their activities in other ways - below we offer you a range of tools to help you find these fee-free OA publishers.

Curtin University Library also has a number of arrangements with publishers that remove APC’s for Curtin authors as part of library subscriptions.

OA mandates

Funder mandates are one of the key drivers for OA publishing. European funding bodies have raised the bar significantly through Plan S, whereby all publicly funded research must be made open access as soon as it is published, without embargo. Major private funders such as The Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have also joined Plan S.

ARC and NHMRC Mandates

The Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) both require that research outputs arising from ARC/NHMRC funded projects be made openly available within 12 months from the date of publication.

  • The ARC requires all research outputs created since 1 January 2013 be made publicly available at the earliest possible opportunity. Embargos of up to 12 months are permitted but metadata for all research outputs must be made available immediately.

  • NHMRC requires peer reviewed journal articles from 1 July 2012, and peer-reviewed conference papers from 15 January 2018, be made open publicly but does encourage authors of other forms of output to make them openly available if possible.

  • Open data archiving is encouraged by both these funders, but not mandatory. More information can be found on the Research Data Management guide.

  • Research outputs can be deposited in either an Open Access institutional repository or in other acceptable locations e.g. publisher’s website (if the published version of the article is Open Access with a Creative Commons licence) or public digital archives, such as PubMed Central, or in an OA journal.

  • Metadata must also be made publicly available through an institutional repository within 3 months from the date of publication, regardless of whether the research output is made openly accessible or not.

  • From the 15 January 2018, NHMRC funded research requires patents generated from public funding be listed in Source IP when the full application has been filed.

You can get more information about funder mandates from:

  • Funder web pages

  • Sherpa Juliet – a database that allows researchers to search for funders conditions for OA publication and data archiving. This is particularly useful if your project is being funded by a non-Australian body.

  • As the grant’s Chief Investigator/ Project Leader you are responsible for depositing the research publication in either an Open Access institutional repository (e.g. espace) or other acceptable locations (e.g. PubMed Central, publisher’s website, OA journal) within 12 months from the date of publication.

  • As the grant’s Chief Investigator/ Project Leader you are responsible for depositing the publication metadata in an Open Access institutional repository (e.g. espace) as soon as possible or within 3 months from the date of publication regardless of whether or not the publication itself is to be deposited in an institutional repository or made openly accessible some other way.

  • You are responsible for ensuring that only the Accepted or Published version of your publication is available open access.

  • As a co-author, you can deposit publications into your own institutional repository.

  • If you are the Chief Investigator/Project Leader, in cases where there may be legal or contractual reasons that limit compliance with the mandate (e.g. publications that cannot be made open access or with an embargo period extending beyond 12 months), you need to provide reasons for non-compliance to the funding body in the Final Report.

Which manuscript is required?

The ARC and NHMRC require that one of the following publication versions be made open access:

  • Accepted/Post-print - version that has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication
  • Published version - also called the ‘publisher’s version’ of record which has been formatted by the publisher and published in its final form.

Contribute to espace

For further information regarding depositing research output into Curtin’s institutional repository refer to the Library’s Guide to espace.

Curtin University’s institutional repository is espace and this is the first port of call for Curtin authors to deposit their research output.

However different disciplines may lodge their works in discipline specific repositories, particularly in the case of non traditional research outputs.

While most repositories accept only peer reviewed “postprints” or accepted versions of papers, there is a growing number of “preprint servers” where papers can be lodged before peer review to allow time for feedback, discussion and revision prior to lodgement with a commercial publisher.

Tools for finding repositories

Open access journals

Publishing your work in an Open Access journal can increase the visibility and accessibility of your work. There are various business models under which OA journals operate:

  • Fully OA journals
    Articles are published in an OA journal and accessible online immediately. There are two types:
    • Fee-based OA journals require payment by the author - an article processing charge (APC).The APC can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
    • No-fee OA journals do not charge any author fees for publication. They are often published by universities, societies or research centres.
  • Hybrid journals
    The author elects to pay for an article to be made openly accessible within a subscription journal. As publishers receive both subscriptions and OA fees, this is often referred to as ‘double-dipping’.

  • Delayed OA journals
    Content is initially accessible only to journal subscribers. After a specified embargo period the articles can be accessed free of charge.

Finding the most appropriate journals in which to to publish your research will be a process of weighing up a number of factors, both within and beyond your control.

You will need to consider:

  • Do you have sufficient funds to cover publishing costs?
  • Does Curtin have a Read and Publish Agreement that will cover the cost of APC’s?
  • Would you like the article to be available open access immediately?
  • Will the journal reach the right audience?
  • What peer review process does the journal go through?

Use the tools in the next tabs to help you make the best choice.

The following resources will help you find relevant OA journals in your area:

  • DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals
    Hosted by Lund University. It covers free full text, quality controlled and scholarly journals. You can match your abstract against journals in DOAJ by using the Open Journal Matcher.

  • Journal Citation Reports (JCR) - Incites
    Journal Citation Reports is published annually in two editions. JCR Science Edition contains data about more than 8,000 journals in science and technology. JCR Social Sciences Edition contains data about more than 2,600 journals in the social sciences

  • SCIMago journal ranking (SJR)
    Find journals by their quartile rankings and OA availability.

    Database of publisher copyright policies & self-archiving policies.

  • Ulrichsweb
    Ulrichsweb is an easy to search source of detailed information on more than 300,000 periodicals (also called serials) of all types: academic and scholarly journals, e-journals, peer-reviewed titles, popular magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and more.

  • Cabell’s Directories
    Provides access to journal information, evaluation metrics, and submission details for of academic journals in the fields of accounting, economics, management and marketing. The directories are reference tools for preparing manuscripts for publication in selected journals and they provide links to journal-specific guidelines and submission information including style, format and review processes.

For more information on searching these tools for OA content, go to Tools for finding quality journals.

The Directory of Open Access Journals search function can identify quality open access journals that do not charge article processing fees (APCs).

  • Open DOAJ journals page.
  • Click on Without article processing charges (APCs) box.
  • You can also click the box for journals With a DOAJ seal, to ensure that your results are limited to quality publishers who have met the DOAJ’s criteria for best practice in OA publishing.
  • Further limits by subject, language, peer review type can also be applied, but be aware that the more limits you place on the search, the fewer results you will get.

Open access books

There are a number of different models for publishing OA books.

  1. Large commercial publishers - these charge a Book or Chapter Processing Fee which can be as much as US$17,000 for a book or US$1,700 for a chapter. Examples include Elsevier and Springer Nature.

  2. University presses and niche publishers. An increasing number of these types of OA publishers are moving to “diamond” open access where no fees are charged to either publish or read a book. Their costs are covered by grants, subsidies, OA consortia or via the on-demand printing of hard copy editions.

  3. Between these two extremes there are other models such as Library consortia or membership arrangements where a group of Libraries pays a subscription to fund a set of OA books.

This is a rapidly changing area with new OA book publishing models being developed across the globe.

Use the tools in the next tab to find the right publisher for your needs.


OAPEN Open Access Books Toolkit:

OAPEN-UK - Guide to open access monograph publishing for arts, humanities and social science researchers

  • Ask an expert!
    Check with colleagues and mentors about their OA book publishing experiences.

  • Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)
    On this website, browse the list of OA publishers by name or subject area. Publishers all meet certain criteria for their peer review and licensing policies. DOAB’S Certification service OPERAs, is currently operating in Beta and will move into production in 2021.This will provide additional information around peer review, licensing and transparency, rather like the DOAJ Seal.

  • OA Books Toolkit
    A great source of current information on all aspects of open access book publishing.

  • Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA)
    Search the OASPA membership database to find OA publishers who have been through a rigorous review process.

  • Open Access Australasia
    Provides an overview of developments in OA book publishing, including details on university OA publishers, commercial OA publishers and an indication of possible publisher charges.

The true benefits of open publishing are only realised if works are discoverable.

Having a unique identifier such as a DOI or ISBN for OA books and book chapters will ensure that they can be discovered and uniquely distinguished. It is also important that their metadata or description is harvested by databases and search engines so they aren’t hidden in small collections away from public access.

OA books can be discovered in a number of ways:

  • Library catalogues – Curtin University Library has a huge database of open resources discoverable through its catalogue
  • Databases such as Scopus which include OA book chapters
  • Google Scholar and Google Books
  • Publisher platforms
  • Vendor platforms – OAPEN Library, OpenEdition Books, Knowledge Unlatched, JSTOR


Curtin Library guide to identifiers