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Publishing in Academic Law Journals

What is open access?

Open access (OA) is a scholarly communication model that grants free and open online access to academic information. In simpler terms, academic journals and books are made freely available to all. This is different than the traditional “closed” publication model that requires users to pay to access content through either a one-time fee or a subscription.  

Why should I publish open access?

Increased Access to Information 

In principle, open access improves access to and dissemination of knowledge because there are no paywalls between readers and journal content. Increased access to information can benefit everyone from fellow scholars to the public. For instance, open access can ensure that information that could guide policy changes is freely disseminated.  

Potential Benefits 

It has been speculated that OA can offer several benefits to researchers, including greater visibility and increased citations, but these benefits have not yet been proven.  

Funding Obligations 

You may also want to consider your obligations when it comes to publishing. Canada’s federal research granting agencies (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC) require any peer-reviewed publications resulting from Tri-Agency funded research projects be made freely available (in other words, open access) at the time of publication. All researchers are encouraged to check their obligations in their funding contracts. 

How can I publish open access?

There are two routes to achieving open access: Publication or archiving.  

Open access publication is when an article is published open access, meaning that it is free and available immediately upon publication. Researchers can choose to publish open access by either selecting an open access journal to publish in, or selecting a journal that publishes both closed and open content and negotiating that their work be published openly.  

Archiving, also known as Green OA, is another route for achieving open access. Authors can post the work to their own website or deposit it in their institution’s repository (like QSpace, Queen’s University’s open access repository) or an independent repository for people to find and read. However, they may be limited to what version of their work that they can archive due to their publishing agreement or copyright law. For instance, a publishing agreement may state that authors are not allowed to archive the final article because it will infringe on the journal’s copyright over the work. As a result, they will need to deposit a pre-publication version of their work that may not have undergone peer-review or final edits.