Dissemination of your publications in Open Access



Open Access dissemination means the instant, free and persistent availability of scholarly publications on the internet. You have several options to disseminate your paper in Open Access – you can publish in an Open Access journal or deposit your paper in an Open Access repository.

These practices are not mutually exclusive. You can combine them to ensure maximum dissemination for your work and still comply with the regulations of intellectual property.

Publishing in an Open Access journal (so-called OA-Gold)

In the traditional business model of scholarly journals, access to articles is restricted to individuals and institutions with a paying subscription. Publishing in a scholarly Open Access journal means that anyone can instantly access your article without cost. There are different funding models to cover the costs of publishing, with two main categories of such models which are in continuous evolution:

  • With costs: Publishing costs are covered in the form of Article Processing Charges (APCs). These charges will be paid by your university or research institute.
  • Without costs: Authors do not have to pay fees. The journal costs are financed in advance by the organisation publishing or distributing the publication based on various funding mechanisms (institutional funding, subscription, etc.).

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Some publishers try to increase their revenues by maintaining the traditional model of access by subscription and at the same time offering a payable option to publish articles in Open Access. This effectively means that institutions are made to pay twice over – for access to the journal and for publication of an article.

This controversial business model is often used by big commercial publishers. It is not advisable to pay these additional costs, especially since you can make your article available through an Open Access repository.

The DEAL contracts and other transformation agreements enable authors to publish Open Access in hybrid journals without additional costs. Ask your institutuon’s Open Access officer about this.

Tip: If you do not know anybody in your institution who is familiar with Open Access you are wecome to ask for support at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.

Fraudulent practices: Beware appearances

The development of digital technologies has given rise to publishers with questionable practices. They will contact you and promise to publish your paper quickly. Such rapid publication is bought with lack of editing quality and peer review. Such publishers also demand fees for publication. Publishing in such journals can damage your academic reputation and also generates costs. It is sometimes difficult to identify so-called predatory journals, but there are tools available to help you. Similar to fraudulent journals are fraudulent conferences where the organisers only want to make money. Academic reputation plays little or no role here.

Think. Check. Submit: This website offers a number of checklists to help you assess the trustworthiness of the journal in which you want to publish your paper.

Storing in an open (text) repository

An Open Access repository enables you to disseminate your scholarly work independent of previous publication [*remember to check content from publishing houses first]. Storage in an open repository does not replace the publishing process in a journal, however. But it guarantees persistent storage and wide accessibility which is not necessarily the case with academic social networks such as ResearchGate or Academia.

This is not limited to articles: you can also deposit a PhD thesis, a report or a conference contribution.

Open Access repositories can be organised by disciplines, institutions or nation states. If you have not been given specific guidelines you can ask your institution’s library for advice on choosing the most suitable repository.

  • EconStor: The publication server of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics holds more than 200,000 full-texts in Open Access, mostly from German economic researchers. These are mainly working papers, but also include conference contributions and journal articles. A part of the EconStor publications is available through RePEc and can also be found in Google Scholar and EconBiz.
  • RePEc: Although RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) is not a repository in the original sense (it does not store full-texts, but merely offers a decentralised union catalogue with links to full-texts), it must be listed here because for many researchers it is the most widely known source for full-texts in economics. Nearly half of all publications linked there (mostly journal articles and working papers) are freely available. RePEc is operated decentrally by a team of economists on a non-commercial basis.
  • SSRN: The Social Science Research Network is the largest repository in economics. As the name indicates, it is an interdisciplinary offer which covers all social sciences (including some humanities). Here you can access around 500,000 full-texts in Open Access, a large part of which are from economics. SSRN is owned by the academic publisher Elsevier.
  • AgEconSearch: It is a disciplinary repository operated by the University of Minnesota and funded mainly by the “Agricultural and Applied Economics Association”. It holds around 150,000 freely accessible full-texts, mostly from agriculturural and applied economics. All publications on AgEconSearch are also indexed in RePEc.
  • MPRA: The Munich Personal RePEc Archive (MPRA) is hosted by LMU Munich University and contains 50,000 economics publications from all over the world. Most of them are not provided by institutions or publishers, but by individual researchers through self-upload. An editing team releases them, and they are indexed in RePEc.

You can deposit different versions of an article:

  • the preprint or the author version (the version submitted for publication),
  • the version submitted by the authors to the journal before the peer review,
  • the author accepted manuscript (AAM): the version which includes the revisions resulting from the peer review process, but not the final publisher’s layout,
  • the version of record (final published version, publisher’s PDF): this is the article with the publisher’s layout as published in the journal. The publisher may have the exclusive rights to dissemination of this version, depending on the conditions set out in the publishing agreement you signed.

What rights do authors have?

Independently of the dissemination method you choose, publishing in Open Access requires that you comply with the regulations regarding intellectual property.

  • As the author you own all rights to your scholarly text until you sign a publishing agreement in which you cede a part of these rights to the publisher.
  • In the case of scholarly articles you can disseminate specified versions of your article in Open Access, especially by depositing it in an open repository. This applies to the preprint and the author accepted manuscript. In certain cases a legal right to secondary publication with a twelve month embargo applies.
  • For other forms of publications the publishing agreement and/or the publisher’s guidelines apply. You can use SHERPA/RoMEO to check on the Open Access policies of publishers.

Worth knowing: Have you written a paper jointly with other authors and want to deposit this in a repository? Have you collected data jointly with others and now want to assign a licence that allows reuse by others? Always discuss this with your co-authors.

Good luck with your research!

Date: March 2021
Questions, comments and notes are welcome at open-science@zbw.eu

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