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Open Access Publishing

Article Processing Charges (APCs)

  • Article Processing Charges (APCs) are charged to authors of scholarly articles during the publication process.
  • APCs are used by open access journals in lieu of subscription fees that libraries and readers traditionally have paid to gain access to research articles. APCs shift the burden of journal production costs (editing, peer review, hosting, archiving, preservation), to authors from readers.
  • Paying an APC results in an article that is available to anyone with an internet connection.
  • Corporate, non-profit, society, academic, and other publishers use a variety of models to meet their income needs and publishing service costs, and charging APCs is one model.
  • APCs should not be confused with page charges long associated with both print and digital publications. Page charges are used to cover administrative costs as well as the cost of print publication, but do not make the article available in an open access (OA) model.

Types of Journal Access

Subscription Journal/Closed Access/Toll Access

  • The traditional means of article and journal publication, where the reader (or usually an institutional library) pays a subscription for a full years’ access to journal content.
  • Subscriptions to the journal may be as a physical subscription, digital-only or both.
  • Subscription articles may also be accessed on a pay-per-article basis, rather than paying for a full subscription to the entire journal.
  • Many journals are reducing print copies; some are digital/online only, and some journals collate the full years’ worth of issues into one print volume per year.

Gold OA

  • This form of Open Access makes the final published Version of Record permanently, freely available, immediately upon publication by the publisher, at the point of publication (i.e. the journal itself, not in a repository).
  • Gold Open Access frequently requires payment of an article processing charge (APC), which may be paid by authors or subsidised by a third party such as a funding council – however, payment is not a necessary characteristic of Gold Open Access, it simply means that the article is free for readers to access from the journal itself under a Creative Commons license.

Green OA

  • Making a version of the manuscript freely available in a repository.
  • An embargo period is usually set by the publisher, such as 6, 12 or even 24 months. No charges are paid.

Delayed Open Access

  • Refers to scholarly articles in subscription journals made available openly on the web directly through the publisher at the expiry of a set embargo period.


  • A subscription journal which allows authors to make their papers Open Access.
  • Typically a significantly higher price (relative to dedicated Gold OA journals), while others remain toll access.

Bronze OA

  • Articles marked as ‘Open Access’ without an explicitly stated Creative Commons license, and/or without charge of an APC to the author.

Gratis OA

  • This access refers to the publisher optionally making a paper free to read at no charge to the author – usually for marketing and promotional activities.
  • The Gratis Open Access may not be permanent.
  • Copyright/licencing is still determined by traditional formats.
  • This is not ‘true’ Open Access.

Libre OA

  • This is a blanket term for ‘true’ Open Access; where the paper is made available under an open licence, allowing it to be shared and reused, depending on which licence is used.

Diamond OA

  • This refers to the form of Gold Open Access in which there is no author fees (APC).
  • Funding for the journal publishing operations comes from alternate sources, and is not charged to the authors.

Myths about Open Access

Myth: OA publishers have lower quality than traditional publishers.

Research has found that OA journals have comparable methodological and reporting standards as non-OA journals (Pastorino et al 2016). In fact many traditional, prestigious journals now have open access publishing options.

Myth: All OA publishers charge APCs.

While some publishers charge steep APC fees, 71% of OA journals do not charge an article processing charge (Crawford 2016).

Myth: OA journals have poor impact factors.

In reality, the IFs of OA journals are steadily approaching the IFs of subscription journals (Bjork and Solomon 2012).

Predatory vs Low Quality

Predatory Publishing: an exploitative business model that charges publication fees to authors sans the quality checks & editorial/publishing services performed by legitimate journals

Predatory Journal/Publisher: a single predatory publication that relies on funds from unsuspecting or uncaring authors

  • Non-professional email addresses
  • False claims of indexing, impact factors & metrics
  • Very low article processing/publications charges (e.g. < $300)
  • Falsified Editorial Boards

Low Quality Journal/Publisher: a publication of low scholarly or ethical standards that does not charge publication fees

Vetting Journals

Public Access vs Open Access

  • “Open Access” is a broad set of principles and practices for sharing research outputs (including publications and data), where they are freely available online and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
  • “Public Access” is a policy term referring to “free availability of federally funded scholarly materials to the public." (White House Office of Technology Policy).
  • In some cases, publishing in an open access journal may not meet public access policy guidelines. For example, NIH-funded research articles published in some open access journals may still need to be deposited into the NIH repository PubMed Central in order to be compliant.
    • All peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds must be submitted to the digital archive PubMed Central
    • Requires papers to be accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication
    To Go Into Effect No Later Than Dec. 31, 2025
    • U.S. White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memo in August 2022 that recommends that all federal agencies update their public access policies by December 31, 2025.
    • New OSTP guidance would remove the current 12-month embargo period
    • All peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds must be submitted to the digital archive PubMed Central, immediately and without an embargo

Benefits of Open Access

  • Increased research exposure (especially for early career researchers and students)
  • Higher citation rates than non-OA articles
  • Accelerated pace of research discoveries
  • Greater public interaction with research
  • Research has more value and support from taxpayers
  • Developing countries have access to research
  • Less delay between research and improved clinical practice

Finding Open Access Journals

Finding Open Access Journals in Journalytics

  • Go to the Skelton Medical Libraries webpage
  • Select the "Databases tab in the middle of the page.
  • Select the letter "J."

Select "Journalytics"

  • Select a discipline or topic or search for a publisher
  • Select Filters and then Open Access

Finding Open Access Journals in DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)

  • A service that indexes and provides access to quality-controlled Open Access Journals and their articles.
  • The Directory aims to be comprehensive and cover all open access scientific and scholarly journals that use an appropriate quality control system, and it is not limited to particular languages or subject areas.
  • The aim of the Directory is to increase the visibility and ease of use of open access scientific and scholarly journals thereby promoting their increased usage and impact.
  • Select "Journals Without Fees" to get a list of OA journals that do not charge authors

Open Access/Hybrid Journals With APC Covered Through Mercer University

Springer Nature

  • If you are a corresponding author affiliated with Mercer University, the agreement reached means you can publish your article open access with fees covered.
  • 120 institutions are participating in the transformative agreement between Springer Nature and the Lyrasis Consortium, meaning that corresponding authors affiliated with participating institutions are eligible to publish their articles open access with fees covered in hybrid journals across the Springer Nature portfolio.
  • Eligible Journals.
  • In addition, you can enjoy full access to all Springer subscription journal content.
  • Established by Lyrasis, this agreement will run through 31 December 2027.
  • More information for authors

American Chemical Society

  • If you are affiliated with Mercer University, publish in ACS Open Access Journals at no cost to you.
  • The agreement is via the GALILEO Consortium.
  • Journals included in the agreement.
  • More information for authors:


  • Sage has an agreement with GALILEO to publish articles open access. The agreement for participating organizations, including Mercer University, will run from January 01, 2024, through to December 01, 2026.
  • To qualify for the agreement, the corresponding author must be affiliated with Mercer University and have an article accepted for publication between 1 January 01, 2024 and December 31, 2026.

  • Subscription journals: Corresponding authors publishing an article in 900+ subscription journals in the Sage Premier 2024 package which offers hybrid open access publishing (Sage Choice), can be published open access, free of charge.
  • Charges other than the author article processing charge (APC) may still apply, please refer to individual journal submission guidelines.
  • Authors do not need to take any action to benefit from this offer. Sage will contact all eligible authors to inform them of the agreement and invite them to the Sage Open Access Portal to take up the offer as soon as their accepted article has been received into Sages Production department.

  • Gold open access journals: Corresponding authors publishing an article in a Gold open access journal are entitled to a 20% discount on the prevailing article processing charge (APC) for that journal. For participating journals view the Gold journal title list. This discount will be applied automatically in the SageOpen Access Portal.
  • Where an author is eligible for more than one discount, discounts cannot be combined but the highest discount available to the author will be applied to the APC due.
  • The corresponding author must be affiliated with a member institution participating in the license agreement for their article to qualify for the article processing charge (APC) discount.
  • Authors do not need to take any action to benefit from this offer. Sage will contact all eligible authors to inform them of the agreement and invite them to the Sage Open Access Portal to take up the offer as soon as their accepted article has been received into Sages Production department

  • More information for authors

BMJ Case Reports

  • The MUSM Skelton Medical Libraries have an Institutional Fellowship with BMJ Case Reports.
  • Contact a Librarian for the code
  • Mercer faculty, staff and students will not have to pay individual fellowship fees. Our Fellowship Code may be utilized when submitting an article. Submission does not guarantee acceptance. The submission will still need to go through the BMJ peer review process.
  • A User Guide is available


  1. Björk BC, Solomon D. Open access versus subscription journals: a comparison of scientific impact. BMC Med. 2012 Jul 17;10:73. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-10-73. PMID: 22805105; PMCID: PMC3398850.
  2. Bryson D. Using open access publications to support your professional development. J Vis Commun Med. 2022 Oct;45(4):272-274. doi: 10.1080/17453054.2022.2111299. Epub 2022 Aug 23. PMID: 35996892.
  3. Common myths about open access...busted! (accessed Februaty 2, 2024)
  4. Frank J, Foster R, Pagliari C. Open access publishing - noble intention, flawed reality. Soc Sci Med. 2023 Jan;317:115592. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115592. Epub 2022 Dec 2. PMID: 36481722.
  5. Gamble R. LibGuides: Guide to Getting Published in Journals: Different open access models, (accessed February 1, 2024)
  6. Huang CK, Neylon C, Hosking R, Montgomery L, Wilson KS, Ozaygen A, Brookes-Kenworthy C. Evaluating the impact of open access policies on research institutions. Elife. 2020 Sep 14;9:e57067. doi: 10.7554/eLife.57067. PMID: 32924933; PMCID: PMC7536542.
  7. Library ATSM. Libguides: open access: introduction to open access, (accessed February 2, 2024)
  8. OSTP Issues Guidance to Make Federally Funded Research Freely Available Without Delay, Office of Science and Technology Policy. The White House. (accessed February 6, 2024)
  9. Pastorino R, Milovanovic S, Stojanovic J, Efremov L, Amore R, Boccia S. Quality Assessment of Studies Published in Open Access and Subscription Journals: Results of a Systematic Evaluation. PLoS One. 2016 May 11;11(5):e0154217. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154217. PMID: 27167982; PMCID: PMC4864356.
  10. Wirth A. Libguides: open access: article processing charges, (accessed February 1, 2024)
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