Researchers usually struggle to select the best journal for their manuscript, and this decision becomes even more difficult when
deciding between an open-access journal or a paid journal. We live in a progressively internet-centric society. This shift in how we
connect, communicate, share, and conduct business has profoundly impacted scientific research and academic publishing.
In the contemporary world, research is disseminated through several venues, including blogs, social media platforms, Twitter, open access
journals, and traditional paid journals. Open access journals are freely available to any individual that has internet access. They provide
free content on the internet and charge researchers or scholars for publishing their findings. On the other hand, paid journals charge
readers a hefty fee to explore the content of the journal.
Although the notion of a journal that is easily and freely available to the general public with no financial barriers to access sounds
excellent in theory, when it comes time for publishing their paper, researchers struggle with the decision of whether to publish their
research in an open-access journal or a traditional paid journal.
To help you answer this question, discussed below are a few key differences between paid journals and open access journals and the factors
to consider when making the decision.
Differences between paid journals and open access journals
The following are a few key differences between paid journals and open access journals and the factors to consider when choosing one for
your academic publishing:
Factor #1: Visibility
Publishing your article in an open-access journal means that more people will see it because more individuals can access it as there are no
financial limitations. A study revealed
that full-text downloads of online journals were 89 percent higher, unique visitors were 23 percent higher, and PDF downloads were 42
percent higher than those for paid journals.
In addition, many research and science authors believe that open access publications are read more widely than paid journals, which is one
of the key factors why academic researchers choose open access journals over paid journals. But there is no evidence whether the increase in
access can translate into higher citation rates.
Factor #2: Cost
Traditional and open access journals usually don’t charge a fee at the time of submission. The main difference occurs post-acceptance.
Traditional paid journals are usually free but some do charge for colour figures, which can be easily avoided. However, open access journals
generally charge a flat article processing fee to cover peer review and editorial related costs. If the authors don’t have the means to pay
for publication charges, they can also apply for partial or full waivers. Some journals also have special relationships with universities,
allowing researchers to publish at a discounted rate or even for free.
Another cost is related to subscriptions, which can be prohibitive as some journal subscriptions cost as much as $40,000 for complete online
access to scientific and academic publications published by a publisher. These extreme charges might even lead some libraries to cancel
their subscriptions, which harms both authors and readers. This is why numerous academic writers consider submitting their work to open
access journals or to ones that have sustainable and reasonable subscription costs.
Factor #3: Prestige
Many academic researchers are more hesitant to publish in open access journals as they are less famous than some of the more prominent and
more well-established journals in the field. We cannot deny that the most common cause of research authors deciding not to publish in an
open-access journal is related to the perceived quality of open access publications. It is crucial to note that many free access journals
are new and have not received their impact factor.
Because of this, many researchers still place a lot of importance on ‘brand name’ journals, as publication in these types of journals can
drastically increase their chance of gaining tenure, being promoted, and acquiring funding for grant proposals.
Factor #4: Speed
Several authors consider the speed of acceptance from a journal as a critical factor when deciding in which journal to publish. Publishing
in a peer-reviewed journal would always involve some degree of delay from submission to final publication. These delays can negatively
affect fields such as clinical science, in which patients are waiting for new therapies.
Traditional journals usually face considerable delays owing to backlogs, space limitations, and physical printing. On the other hand, open
access journals follow a more rapid publication process. Therefore, if speed is a critical factor in your publication decision, then an
open-access journal might be the ideal choice for you.
In summary, when choosing between open access and paid journals, it is vital to consider the journal’s prestige, visibility, cost of
publication, and publication speed. Ultimately, it all depends on your personal choice and preference. If you feel you cannot trust your
publication with an open-access journal, then choose a paid journal publisher that you know and trust.
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