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