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Routes to Open Access Publication

There are essentially two ways to publish in Open Access. The Gold OA route is that the author publishes their article directly in an Open Access Journal, and the Green OA route is that the author publishes their article in any journal and then (parallel or subsequently) also publishes an Open Access copy.

The Gold OA Route
Open Access Publication

When publishing via the gold route, the work is published directly with an Open Access publisher. Publishers often charge ‘article-processing charges’ (APCs) for this. When applying for third-party funding, however, it is often possible to also apply for funding to finance such publication fees.


1) Check which Open Access journals are suitable for you and what costs may arise. In the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) you can find information about which Open Access journals are regularly published and which have a quality assurance procedure. For monographs, you can search the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) for suitable publishers.

2) Check which funding options are available for costs incurred.

3) Submit your publication to the journal or publisher.

4) After your contribution has been accepted, you should also upload it to the Reutlingen University Academic Bibliography as a pre-print or post-print (in accordance with the publisher’s conditions).

Publication in Hybrid Journals

Subscription journals now also offer the possibility of publishing individual articles as Open Access publications for a fee. The majority of large publishers offer this option. Please note, however, that the article fees are often higher than for genuine Open Access journals and that research funders often do not pay publication fees for hybrid journals.


1) Check whether the journal of your choice offers the possibility of Open Access publication and how high the article fees are.

2) Check whether your research funder also supports hybrid publication.

3) Submit your publication to the journal.

4) After your contribution has been accepted, you should also upload it to the Reutlingen University Academic Bibliography as a pre-print or post-print (in accordance with the publisher’s conditions).

The Green OA Route

The republication of academic papers in institutional or subject-specific repositories is called the “green” route. Depending on the publisher, this so-called “self-archiving” can take place immediately at the time of the first publication or after an embargo. For this purpose, you should agree either a non-exclusive right of use (allowing immediate second publication) or the cession of exclusive rights of use (second publication after expiry of the embargo) when publishing your work.

The information on legal issues on can help you with this.


1) Check which type of secondary publication the publisher or journal permits and which conditions apply. You can use the Sherpa/Romeo database to assist you in this.

2) Submit your work to the desired journal.

3) When you agree the contract with your publisher, make sure that you are permitted to republish your work.

4) Upload the preprint or postprint of your work in the University’s repository, in compliance with the publishing conditions. You can search for subject-specific repositories in the "Directory of Open Access Repositories" (openDOAR).

Quality Assurance

Good Open Access journals have the same quality signifiers as good subscription journals: they offer a transparent peer-review process, have well-known scientists as editors, publish relevant research, offer permanent referencing of the article and are listed in the relevant subject databases or catalogues (e.g. Web of Science, Scopus, EZB).
Unfortunately, there are also a few rotten apples amongst the editors or publishers of Open Access journals, known as predatory publishers. These are only interested in the publication fees and do not adhere to the usual standards of good scientific practice. In order to avoid such journals, you should use the Think.Check.Submit checklist to check the integrity of the journal. Receiving spam e-mails asking you to publish in a journal is another indication that the journal is not trustworthy.

Further Information:

Purposefully Searching for Open Access Publications

Open Access publications can be found using the University Library’s usual search tools. For example, you can search for freely accessible journals in the Electronic Journal Library (EZB). Further Open Access articles can also be found using the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE).

Explore the following databases to search for:

Finding Open Access Versions of Articles

Since many articles in subscription journals have been republished by their authors in institutional repositories, in line with the Green OA model, you will often find Open Access versions of articles using a search engine or Google Scholar.

The extensions Unpaywall and Open Access Button for Firefox and Chrome also provide you with the freely accessible versions of articles that you have found in subject databases, without any need for an additional search.

Creative Commons Licences

Creative Commons licenses allow people to share their work across the world while still being able to define exactly what others can do with it. This benefits both the producer, whose work is therefore protected, and the user, who clearly know with how much (or how little) freedom they are able to use the resource. There are six main Creative Commons licences, as visualised in the following diagram from Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand:


The following videos from Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand and GCFGlobal provide more information about the benefits of Creative Commons licences as well as the meaning of each licence type:

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