Deciding Where to Publish

Guidelines for Selecting an Open Access Publisher

How can you identify Open Access journals?

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

  • DOAJ has a rigorous vetting process for journals.
  • Very new journals will not be included.
  • Search for journals by keyword or browse subjects.

Ulrichs Global Serials Directory

  • Search for journals by keyword.
  • Open Access titles are indicated with the OA logo in the results page.
  • To limit to only open access journals, go to Advanced Search, click on More Limiters, and check Open Access under “Key Feature”
  • Many types of serials are included, so limiting to Journal under Serial Type can be helpful.

What about emails inviting you to submit to an Open Access journal?

You've been invited by email to send in your manuscript to a new open access journal. The name of the journal looks familiar and you see that an ISSN is provided. There is a link to the journal website and a list of all the places that the journal is indexed, including Ulrichs, Ebsco, and Proquest. The logo looks familiar. The article processing charge is nominal, and the review process promises a quick turnaround.

As with spam e-mail, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Be wary of unsolicited e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members.

How to Assess a Journal (aka How not to publish in an undesirable journal) - infographic from the Canadian Association of Research Libraries

Go with your instincts, but just to be sure, here are some things to check before submitting your manuscript:

Industry Association Membership

Is the publisher listed as a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)? The OASPA member list includes more than 100 publishers and other organizations involved in open access publishing initiatives that have been vetted against best practice standards. While there are many quality open access publishers and journals that are not affiliated with the OASPA, the member list is a good starting point.


Check to see if the journal is indexed by reputable websites, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) or Ulrichs Global Serials Directory. Like the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association, these directories vet journals against best practice standards.


Is the scope of the journal well defined? Who is the intended audience? Is the journal supported by an academic society or institution? Do the published articles align with the stated scope of the journal?

Editorial Board

Does the journal's editorial board have recognized experts with full affiliations? Can you easily find information about them, their academic affiliations, and their expertise? If in doubt, contact some of them and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher.

Relatedly, is the same editor associated with multiple, unrelated disciplinary journals? Most academics are well-versed in a select number of fields. It is highly unlikely that someone can edit many diverse journals with authority.

Contact Information

Can you easily find complete contact information, including an address, and does it seem reasonable? Be cautious of organizations that only provide a web contact form.

Review Process

Does the publisher have a clear and transparent description of the review process? This information should be easy to find on the website. Promises of quick review and rapid turnaround should be met with skepticism.

Article Processing Charges (if applicable)

Is information about article processing charges clear and easily attainable? The majority of open access publishers do not charge article process charges; however, those that do should have policies that are well-defined, clearly stated, and prominently displayed.

Author Rights

Are the author rights including copyright easy to find and understand? The author contract for publishing should be easy to find and easy to understand. Does the journal website clearly indicate rights for use and re-use of content at the article level? For example, can a Creative Commons CC BY license be applied?

Watch out for journals and publishers that require you to grant them an exclusive license or sign over your copyright to them to publish the work in their journal. Exclusive licenses and signing away your copyright may prevent you from posting your own work on personal websites, or easily fulfilling granting agencies' requirements for open access publishing.


Is that familiar journal title or publisher name really the one you think it is? Unscrupulous publishers will try to fool you with familiar looking titles and logos. For example, the International Journal of Research in Commerce Management is not the same as the International Journal of Commerce and Management. Sometimes the ampersand is the only difference.

What about open access book publishers?

The Open Library of Humanities (OLH) is a gold open access, peer-reviewed, internationally-supported, academic-led, not-for-profit, mega-journal, multi-journal, and books platform for the humanities. It is funded by an international library consortium and so has no author-facing charges. Western Libraries is a member.

The OAPEN Library, a library and publishing platform, contains freely accessible academic books, mainly in the area of the Humanities and Social Sciences. OAPEN works with publishers to build a quality controlled collection of open access books, and provides services for publishers, libraries, and research funders in the areas of dissemination, quality assurance, and digital preservation.

Books listed in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) are vetted by an advisory board with current requirements specified by the OAPEN Foundation in consultation with OASPA.

Have you received an email about publishing your thesis?

Companies such as LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, VMD publishing, and others send spam emails, inviting you to “publish” your dissertation or thesis with them. These are vanity presses that encourage you to sign away your copyright. They do not provide editing or peer review of your work, but rather just print and bind the thesis to sell it through Amazon. Furthermore, signing the author agreements may limit your ability to share your thesis, deposit it in an open access repository, or make it available online.

Most publishers do not consider the dissertation to be a competing publication, as you will have revised the document significantly by the time it has gone through a publisher's editorial process. The dissertation is a product of your work at the University, a publicly funded institution, and should be showcased as such.

Evaluating open access publishers is new to many researchers and scholars.

If you need any assistance or have any questions, feel free to contact a librarian for help.