Electronic publishing: what are the key issues to consider when publishing articles in open access journals?

Selecting a suitable journal is the first point to consider in the publication process. Academic journals generally offer two models of gold open access: 

  • Publication in full open access journals (i.e. all the articles in the journal are published as open access articles).
  • Publication in open access journals with a hybrid business model (i.e. individual journal articles are published under the open access model but the journal as a whole is run under a subscription model).

Both models are accepted, though some funding bodies are unwilling to sponsor publications in journals that are funded by the hybrid business model.

See also

Selecting a journal: how to find a suitable journal for publishing research results
Funding: What requirements do funders impose in regard to open access?

Cost of publication

Open access publishing also incurs costs for the publishing process. Often a fee is charged to cover these costs. Typically referred to as an article/author processing charge (APC), publication fee or author fee, this generally has to be paid when the article is published. There are a number of different ways in which authors can obtain support in paying these fees. 

In certain circumstances publication fees may be higher than normal, for example for articles that have colour illustrations or that exceed a certain number of pages. It is therefore advisable to enquire beforehand whether the publisher charges a fee of this kind and how it is calculated. New journals often waive their author fee for a certain period following their initial launch. However, when drawing up a publishing strategy it is important to remember that these special offers generally only apply for a limited time. 

See also

Publication fees: what are the different ways of covering article processing charges?


Authors that use open access to publish their articles retain the copyright while simultaneously having the option of granting exploitation rights tailored to their own requirements. These additional usage rights are often granted through open content licenses such as Creative Commons licenses.

See also

What do Creative Commons licenses offer?
Selecting a journal: how to find a suitable journal for publishing research results
Author agreements (publication agreements): which aspects are relevant?
Copyright and academic research: what are the key issues that affect you as an author?

Self-archiving (green open access)

Authors who choose not to publish their articles in open access journals or hybrid open access journals still have the possibility of subsequently making their publications freely accessible online through self-archiving. 

See also

Electronic self-archiving: what are the key issues to consider when self-archiving publications in open access repositories (online archives) or on websites?


Important note: The information and links provided here do not represent any form of binding legal advice. They are solely intended to provide an initial basis to help get you on the right track. ZB MED – Information Centre for Life Sciences has carefully checked the information included in the list of FAQs. However, we are unable to accept any liability whatsoever for any errors it may contain. Unless indicated otherwise, any statements concerning individual statutory norms or regulations refer to German law (FAQ updated 11/2017).


Jasmin Schmitz,

Dr. Jasmin Schmitz
Head of Publication Advisory Services

Phone: +49 (0)221 478-32795
Send mail