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Open Access Toolkit: Publishing OA at a reduced rate

Key steps to publishing an Open Access journal

Your contributors will gain:

  • Increased discoverability of and access to their research results
    • OA publication makes research results freely available to anyone with an internet connection. This means that the author's research is available to a wider audience and it is easier for other researchers and the general community to find, read and potentially engage with or cite their work.
  •  Potential for greater academic impact
    • Evidence is emerging that Open Access publishing can increase citation rates. See the Open Citation project which provides a bibliography listing recent studies demonstrating  the relationship between Open Access and increased citation impact.
  • Potential for greater impact in society and industry engagement
    • The Australian Government's 2016 National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) introduces new funding arrangements for universities that give equal emphasis to success in industry and other end-user engagement as it does to research quality. Open Access publishing facilitates the dissemination of research results and knowledge of researchers' expertise and research projects within the wider community.
  • Compliance with funding mandates
    • Many authors need to meet Open Access requirements set by their funding body . An open access platform will facilitate this. See for example, the NHMRC and ARC policies on Open Access.

For more information go to: Australasian Open Access Strategy Group page: Why Open Access?

A few important points to think about:

  • Title and scope of journal
    • Choose the name carefully so it clearly reflects the scope and purpose of the journal
    • Clearly define the scope: It should be broad enough to find adequate material and readers yet narrow enough to have a clear focus
  • Organisational structure
    • Develop and document an organisational structure depending on how the journal will be operated
    • Traditionally, scholarly journals have had an editorial board 
      • Helps in developing policies and direction
      • Plays a significant role in the peer review process
      • The reputation of the editorial board can enhance the reputation of the journal
      • May be instrumental in getting the journal indexed
  • Journal structure and contents
    • Decide what categories of content will be included and how it will be organised
      • Articles, letters, reviews, media, datasets, etc.
    • Determine which format(s) will be used for publishing material (HTML, PDF, XML)
    •  Develop a layout compatible with your field of research.
  • Peer-review process
    • You will need to decide how peer review will be conducted and peer reviewers selected
    • Journal management systems can dramatically streamline peer review (for example: Open Journal Systems)
  • Journal management systems
    • There is software designed specifically for managing and publishing a peer reviewed journal, which can save a great deal of effort (particularly in managing the peer review process). These packages also track the publication process.
    • For a comparison of some popular systems used for managing and publishing journals, refer to the table under the OA journal management systems in the section below on Guides for Open Access Journal Publishers.
  • License
    • Creative Commons licenses offer a variety of options for authors who wish to give users the right to share, use, and build upon their work with certain conditions. They are widely used and provide an excellent choice for managing the licensing aspect of publishing a journal. Visit the Creative Commons website for more information and assistance in selecting the most appropriate license for your needs.
  • Financing your journal

Operating an OA journal takes resources and will incur some cost.

  • Volunteer effort plays an important role in most OA journals' operations. Editorial help is relatively easy to source. It is much more difficult however to get volunteers to perform other technical tasks such as copy editing, web maintenance and typesetting.

  • Donations of time, resources and money are another source of support for OA journals. For example,web hosting and technical support may be available in the University. Contact your faculty.

  • Generate Income through the journal’s operation:
    • Author fees are a common method of funding OA journals 
    • Create an institutional subscription, which will allow subscribers' employees to publish in your journal at no cost or with a reduced charge.
    • Request payment for added value products such as PDF format or compilations of material
    • Sell advertising on the journal’s web site or in the journal itself.

Consider the following for discoverability of your journal content:

  • Journal indexes
    • Indexing is the most effective means to integrate the content of your journal into the body of literature in its field and ensure that the journal content can be easily located. Getting a new journal into major indexes may be challenging initially. See for example:
    • It will be easier to have your journal listed in a Directory. One directory you should list your journal in is:
  • Promoting and disseminating contents /Enhancing your readership
    • There are a variety of other ways you can disseminate information about the content of your journal and help attract readers
      • Obtain an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), a uniform worldwide means of uniquely identifying a serial publication. It is free and simple. More information from the ISSN Organisation.
      • The DOI system is designed to uniquely identify and facilitate the location of digital material. Consider joining CrossRef, the official Digital Object Identifier (DOI) registration agency for scholarly publications.It also supplies a number of useful cross referencing services that will help integrate your journal's material into other literature.
      • Make content available to one or more metadata harvesters e.g. OCLC's WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway
      • Search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Ask are another means of advertising your journal and its contents. The key is to have your material return near the top of the list -- this is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO involves ensuring your site is search-engines friendly, including making article titles and abstracts clear and using relevant keywords. See Maastricht University's list of resources on Academic Search Engine Optimisation (ASEO).
      • Professional networking: 
      • Announce the journal and possible new articles as they appear on professional mailing lists
      • Include a link to your journal or selected articles in your email signature
      • Post notices at professional meetings or conferences
      • Post on social media

Preserving the contents of your journal:

  • ​​Backup
    • Ensure the content, and all supporting documentation for your journal is backed up on a regular basis.
    • Material on the web site may be backed up by the hosting organisation but it is still a good idea to maintain your own backup copies.
  • Archiving
    • develop an archiving system that ensures the content of your journal is kept elsewhere and can be accessed independently of the journal web site. See for example:

The information provided here is based on David J Solomon's Developing Open Access Journals: A practical guide. summary of the book with the same title is available and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution‐Noncommercial‐Share Alike 3.0. The practical guides offer more in-depth and detailed guidelines

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Additional guides for Open Access journal publishers


Guides for OA Journal Publishers.This is a list of guidelines, primers, recommendations, and best practices for publishers of OA journals.

Library Publishing Directory. Produced annually by the Library Publishing Coalition. The LPC supports an evolving, distributed range of library publishing practices and furthers the interests of libraries involved in publishing activities on their campuses.

Starting an OA journal. Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG). Brief guide but most useful for the links to more detailed information and resources.

Note: Whilst UWA Library considers these directories valuable resources, you may find some broken links on these sites.

Comprehensive guides

Developing Open Access Journals: A Practical Guide (Elsevier, 2014).  This book by David J. Solomon provides a practical guide to developing and maintaining an electronic Open Access peer-reviewed scholarly journal. [Requires Pheme login]

Library Publishing Toolkit (pdf, 400p,  IDS Project Press, 2013) This OA book, edited by Allison P. Brown, can also be downloaded free from iTunes or purchased in print from Amazon. Several chapters relate to publishing an Open Access journal eg. Open Access Journal Incubator at University of Lethbridge Library by Sandra Cowan.

Publishers  (2012). Part of Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook: Practical steps for implementing Open Access. A comprehensive website by Alma Swan & Leslie Chan . External links to DOAJ, SPARC and Public Knowledge Project pages may be faulty.

Brief guides and blogs

Information for Publishers.  Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).  Approximately 23 page document which focuses on publishing with DOAJ but also provides a "best practice" guide for prospective OA journal publishers (© 2016)

How to start an Open Access journal (September 4, 2013). Brief post by fictocriticism author Karina Quinn (aka Quinn Eades)

Essential guide: How to start an Open Access journal in five steps. (ca 2013) Suzanne Pilaar Birch describes her experience of getting Open Quaternary started. 

Starting an Open Access Journal: a step-by-step guide part 1 and part 2 (2012) Dr Martin Paul, Lincoln University.

Open Access Publishing and Scholarly Societies: A Guide34 page document prepared by the Open Society Institute, July 2005.

Open Access journal management software can automate and streamline aspects of managing and publishing a journal.

Functionality varies between software, from manuscript submission, peer-review processes and workflows to layout, copyediting, production and access management. Software may be open-source or commercial; and may be hosted locally or by a third-party. Note that some systems requires a level of IT expertise, at least for initial set up.

In addition to reducing administrative workload, journal management software can enhance access, dissemination and preservation of content -- key factors in a developing a thriving Open Access journal.

Popular journal management software includes:

The table below provides a brief comparison of popular journal management software, many of which are free and open source:


OASIS (Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook) Tools and Platforms (2012). Useful overview of considerations for evaluating access and dissemination options, preservation, workflow management and hosting options.

SPARC Open Access Journal Publishing Resource Index 6: Technical Platform: Resources on technical considerations including format issues, hosting, visibility and discoverability.

A list of Free and open-source journal management software (some broken and out-of-date links).

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Making your "subscription" journal Open Access friendly

Subscription-based journals can support the Open Access movement and assist authors by implementing an Open Access policy that is compatible with the requirements of major funding bodies in Australia and internationally.

The National Health and Medical Research  Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council  (ARC) require that any publication arising from NHMRC or ARC supported research must be made Open Access within twelve months of publication. There is more information about funders’ Open Access mandates here.

For additional reasons why authors may be seeking to publish with journals that allow some form of Open Access see the Why publish an OA journal tab above.

To facilitate a more Open Access friendly journal, you can:

  • Make your Open Access policy explicit and available on your website
  • Ensure your policy allows authors to deposit their articles in an Open Access repository within twelve months of publication. It doesn’t have to be the final, published version of the article – frequently journals permit the author’s accepted manuscript (the peer-reviewed version accepted for publication) to be made freely available.
  • Consider offering authors an Open Access option for a fee, known as an Article Processing Charge. This is referred to as a hybrid Open Access model. This can be a way of transitioning to Open Access.

The Australian Health Review published by CSIRO is a subscription journal with an Open Access policy incorporating these elements:

Converting to Open Access

There are many pathways for converting or “flipping” a journal to Open Access, each with different strengths, weaknesses and considerations.

Harvard Library recently published a comprehensive literature review on options and best practices on converting subscription-based scholarly journals to Open Access, including analysis of different scenarios and case studies of journals that have made the transition.

See Solomon, David, J. Mikael Laakso, and Bo-Christer Björk(authors). Peter Suber (editor). 2016. Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences.



Grow your journal

'Making a difference among giants' by Libby Levi for used under CC-BY-SA 4.0

UWA OA journals

Australasian journal of medieval and early modern studies

An multi-disciplinary Open Access journal, published continuously by the Faculty of Education since December 1950. All contents from 2000 are now available as OA articles. (Host: Faculty of Education)

A refereed academic journal of historical and cultural studies based in the Discipline of History at UWA: (Host: Faculty of Arts)

A peer-reviewed feminist cultural studies journal published in May and November. (Host: School of Humanities)

An online interactive creative arts journal created for, by and with students. (Host: UWA Cultural Precinct)