Technology is changing academia. The knowledge and research that has traditionally been written down in great bound volumes is becoming available as ebooks and online journals, and the models for disseminating this knowledge and research are changing. Journals now offer institution membership for online access, and researchers can buy access to specific articles. Alongside these paywall models, open access models are gaining traction. Open access publishing is the term applied to scholarly research that is freely available rather than sequestered behind paywalls and subscriptions. Open access articles are rigorously researched and peer-reviewed, producing high quality academic contributions, but they way that they are funded is obviously different to the traditional models. Established journals are beginning to change their structures, but this is creating opportunities for new journals and new models of disseminating scholarly research.
Many open access journals, like Cerae, rely on the voluntary labour of academics, ensuring that the content that we make available for free is of the same high quality as traditionally published articles. The pay-to-access journals rely on this same voluntary labour in many ways – academics do not receive money for published articles or for peer reviewing other scholars’ articles. The established publishing houses obviously have more resources than voluntary organisations, but as the face of academic publishing is changing, so too, hopefully, will this.
There are subject specific open access libraries that are growing in influence and prestige, such as The Open Library of Humanities and The Public Library of Science. Funding bodies, such as the RCUK and the Wellcome Trust, have made open access publishing one of the criteria of scholarships and grants, meaning that any research published by a grantholder must be open access. Similarly, all work eligible for REF2021 must be available for free. This gives an indication of how important the open access model is becoming in modern scholarship. With tuition fees escalating and academic posts becoming unbearably competitive, the opportunity to research without necessarily being affiliated with a university can be seen as a positive development.
There are huge benefits to publishing your research in an open access forum. Without paywalls and subscriptions, your work is more accessible, leading to increased citations, greater impact, and opportunities for collaborations that fuel great research. As the open access movement grows, there is more prestige associated with the journals that publish this way – no longer is academia limited to a few established journals with their reputations and big bank balances. The ethos of open access is mutual respect, which is borne out in the fact that academic rigour and the peer review process are proudly maintained.
Beware, however, of the predatory journals that are latching onto the open access hype. You should not be asked to pay for your article to be published. Any journal that asks for financial contributions towards peer review or editorial costs is not to be trusted. You can refer to this helpful list if you are unsure whether a journal is predatory or not.
Cerae is proudly open access, run by excellent PhD and ECR researchers who believe in the importance of bridging gaps, opening opportunities, fostering collaboration, and making knowledge freely available to all.