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Open Access

What is an Open Access Journal?

Open Access Logo, open lock

An Open Access journal is a journal that requires no subscription or institutional login for access. Access is free of charge and articles found within an Open Access journal are digitally available for everyone to access. Some journals may offer hybrid access, where some articles or issues are openly available while others are not. Open Access journals have been growing in numbers and popularity in Canada and around the world.

Visit VIU Library's Open Access guide for more information, including Open DataOpen Access DatabasesOpen Access PublishingFunder policies on Open Access, and Copyright & Licenses.

Searching for Open Access Journals & Articles

You can search for Open Access journals and articles through the VIU Library by going to the VIU Library homepage, selecting Open Access, entering your keywords, and clicking Search

Screenshot of VIU Library homepage with "open access" selected and the search bar and search button highlighted.

On the Journals at VIU page you can browse journals by subject and sub-category and then limit your results to Open Access. 

Screenshot of the "browse by subject" section of the A-Z Journals page with different subject hyperlinks. "Social sciences" subject and "gender studies and sexuality" sub category are selected.

Screenshot of the "showing results" section of the A-Z Journals page for "Social Sciences" and "gender studies and sexuality". "Limit by open access" is highlighted"

For more Open Access journals, see the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). The DOAJ has a comprehensive list of Open Access journals that can be searched by journals or articles. 

How do I know if a journal in the Library is Open Access?

The Library collection includes thousands of Open Access journal titles, as well as open books and other open content, that are selected for relevance to learning and scholarship at VIU. Access to these titles does not require a log in.

You can find out if a journal title is Open Access by looking it up in the Library's journals list. Where applicable, Open Access details will appear beside the title.

Questions? Ask a Librarian.

Screenshot of journal record for "Aporia" journal. Includes journal tittle, eISSN, peer review note, and dates and sources the journal is available. "Open access" and "open access title" are highlighted.

Pros and Cons of Open Access Journals

No subscription fees

Greater access to research that can influence policy

Demonstrate benefit and accountability of grant- or publicly-funded research

Open access for researchers in developing countries

Greater online visibility and public readership

  Need to assess critically for legitimacy, quality, peer-review (but wouldn't you do that with any journal?)

  Variable funding models may mean sustainability concerns compared to traditional paid access

Publishing in an Open Access Journal

In selecting any journal for publication, it is important to look for markers of credibility and good reputation. Open Access in and of itself is not an indicator of quality or lack of quality in a journal or publisher. In particular, consider factors such as:

  • Presence of peer review process and how this is done. Fast-tracking publishing without proper checks and edits by experts in the field has led to questions about the quality of disseminated research available online.
  • Fees. How and when are fees charged, and for what services? There are a range of Open Access funding models. Some rely on author fees or APC's (article processing charges) to replace subscription revenue, but most do not.

If you are considering a journal that charges APCs, inquire with the Library or SRCA to see if there may be either a discount incidental to other licenses that the University has with the publisher, or a lower cost, good quality alternative that meets your needs.

For more information see the Library's guide The Right Place to Publish: Considerations in Choosing a Journal or Publisher.

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