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The Open Access Citation Advantage

A recent article (Langham-Putrow, A., Bakker, C., & Riegelman, A. 2021) published in an Open Access (OA) journal has confirmed that OA articles are cited slightly more often in scholarly publications than those articles available only through paid access. It has long been suspected that articles published in Open Access journals had more reach than those published in a traditional scholarly journal. This is sometimes referred to as the “Open Access Citation Advantage” (OACA).

Open Access content is freely accessible to all, with no access fees charged to the user. This means that scholars and researchers whose institutions lack a subscription, or researchers who lack institutional affiliation, can access the book or article online without paying a fee.

The downside of OA, however, is that many OA publishers with name recognition and prestige charge article processing fees to the author, and in the sciences these can be steep, as much as $3,000. Some journals deemed “predatory” seek to take advantage of scholars’ need to publish or perish. It may even be difficult for an author to determine what is a legitimate journal from a predatory one, since both charge the author fees to publish in them. Predatory journals often display what appear to be legitimate editorial boards on professional websites.  When in doubt, the  Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) maintains a curated list of reputable peer-reviewed open access journals.

The TMC Library also subscribes to Cabells Nursing/Health Journals and Predatory Reports which includes open access model used, author submission details for over 3,400 nursing and health journals, and lists of predatory journals in these fields.

As an alternative to paid for publishing, scholars might consider depositing their work with a reputable university institutional repository (IR). Without peer-review, this is considered a form of “self-publishing” (which it is) rather than Open Access publishing, even though it does afford free public access to the articles placed into them. Although not peer-reviewed, placing work into institutional repository can be used in a number of ways to further scholarly communication: one is to present research findings quickly, especially if the information is timely (since peer-review can be slow). Second, it can also be used, with copyright clearance, to deposit article reprints in them to make already published articles which live behind paywalls more visible and accessible to the rest of the world. This process is called “self-archiving.” Last, the institutional repository can be used to share work which has limited chance of being published due to the specialized nature of the research (limited audience or niche interest), it is student work, or because it presents negative findings. For researchers seeking tenure or promotion, or undergoing post-tenure review, the repository can at least demonstrate ongoing research activity in lieu or in advance of formal publication. The TMC Library offers a digital repository, called the Digital Commons, as do many of our member institutions.

The following is a list of traditional publishers in the biomedical sciences who maintain OA journals:

Not all article processing or access fees are $3,000. With regard to mitigating fees, it may be helpful to explore Gold vs. Green Open Access options offered by the publisher. Both will cost money, but, like it sounds, “Gold” is more expensive than “Green.” (Some publishers even offer a Platinum option.) With Gold there are Article Processing Fees, but with Green there may be access fees assessed by the publisher. Both Gold and Green usually expect the author to pay, since the publisher has lost the revenue from charging for subscription or individual access.

There are still many reputable peer-reviewed scholarly journals out there which charge no fees, or only nominal ones. However, one will need to avoid the big-name academic publishers to publish in them. For assistance finding your article a home in 2022, you might ask the TMC Librarians for assistance.


Langham-Putrow, A., Bakker, C., & Riegelman, A. (2021). Is the Open Access Citation Advantage Real? A systematic review of the citation of Open Access and subscription-based articles. PLOS ONE.