Skip to Main Content

Today's hours:

See all library hours »

  • Ask a Librarian
  • FAQ

Open Access FAQ

Information and resources addressing frequently asked questions about open access publishing

OA Myths & Facts

OA Myths

OA Facts

Myth: Academic research only has value if published in a traditional subscription journal, with articles behind paywalls and exclusively available to those with a subscription.

Paywalls prevent access and discovery of works. 

Open access increases discoverability by making scholarly research freely accessible, which ultimately increases impact and reach.

Myth: Open access journals are low quality and not peer reviewed.

Most OA journals are peer reviewed. However, both traditional subscription journals and open access journals should be evaluated for quality before manuscripts are submitted. 

Most open access journals are affiliated with academic institutions or professional associations. 

Myth: Open access journals do not have impact factors and therefore are irrelevant. 

Many OA journals do have Impact Factors. "Impact factors" is a proprietary term that applies to journals indexed in Web of Science databases.

True impact derives from a work's accessibility. There are other tools that can be used to measure impact to consider: AltmetricImpactstory.

Myth: Open access means only publishing in open access journals. 

Open access can happen a few ways:

  • Publish your work in an open access journal.
  • Publish in hybrid journals, but choose to have your article open access.
  • Publish in any journal and retain your right to make a version of your work available in an OA repository, such as Vassar Scholarship.
Myth: Open access deprives authors of their copyright and allows for reuse of a work without proper attribution. 

Open access actually promotes the retention of author copyrights, rather than transferring those rights to publishers. 

Many publishers and authors will utilize Creative Commons Copyright Licenses, to customize how they prefer their work to reused and/or shared by others. 

Read publisher agreements carefully to ensure you retain your copyright and if needed add an addendum to your contract to keep your copyrights. 

Myth: Open access is only for STEM disciplines.


Open access is quickly becoming part of all disciplines. Many funding agencies and grants now require that products of that funding be made OA or deposited into an OA repository

Myth: Open access publishing is expensive for authors.

Many researchers write APCs into their grant applications to cover the expense, or seek out APC funding through institutional departments.

Not all open access journals charge APCs (Article Processing Charge.) Some open access journals cover costs through nonprofit or funder backing. 

If an APC is an obstacle, authors may be able request a fee waiver, or consider if a journal covered by a Read & Publish Agreement is a good fit for your work.

Adapted from, Fruin, C. (2019, January 30).  Open access: Myths, facts, actions. American Theological Library Associations (ATLA) Summary of Proceedings.