Making the Choice: Open Access vs. Traditional Journals


As a scholar, one needs to consider various things while getting your work published. Hence, the reputation of the journal in which you would be publishing your research has a lot of importance. With the advancement of technology, there are undoubtedly many options to make your research reach a suitable audience. While open access journals are often available to anyone with Internet access, traditional journals require the reader to purchase a paid subscription in order to access the publication.

The question that baffles many is: How to choose the right journal? This article will highlight the difference between these two avenues to help you make the right choice.

Open Access and High Visibility vs. Subscription-Based Access 

The reason why researchers or scholars choose to publish a paper is to widen its reach. Open access journals clearly ensure larger visibility because they are available to a wide audience. On the other hand, traditional journals can only be accessed by those who have purchased the subscription to the publication.  One must understand that not all scholars can afford an expensive traditional journal, and therefore many prefer open access journals as they are more easily accessible.

Reduced Publication Time vs.Long Wait

Once submitted, a paper goes through various stages before finally making it to the journal. Studies indicate that in the case of open access journals, the waiting time is shorter compared to the traditional journals. This is a part of their marketing strategy. You may not know the exact timeframe because the paper goes through edits, peer-review, feedback, etc. and it’s difficult to have a fixed timeline for that. Nonetheless, surveys have shown that compared to traditional journals OA journals are said to take lesser time between acceptance and publication. 

Flat Costs vs.Varied Costs  

Open access journals charge a flat fee, also known as APC or article processing charge, which covers the cost of peer-review and other editorial changes. Certain OA journals can also charge a post-acceptance fee once a paper is reviewed and accepted. In some situations, this can be waived off if the author is unable to pay. Another point to consider is that OA journals do not ask their readers to pay for a subscription as already mentioned above, but traditional journals cannot be accessed for free.

Despite the costs, speed, and visibility, many researchers prefer to get published in traditional journals because of their standing in the academic sphere. The peer-reviews in these journals are done by renowned reviewers, which make the publications even more sought-after. Many traditional journals are switching to becoming hybrid OA journals because of their growing demand and popularity. They simply ask for an extra ‘open access fee’ from the author and ensure free access to the articles. This option is a great deal for those looking to associate with a prestigious publication without limiting access to their research paper.

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