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Open Access Toolkit: Publishing an OA journal

Why make your journal Open Access?

Your contributors will benefit from:

  • Increased discoverability of and access to their research results
    • OA publication makes research outputs freely available to anyone with an internet connection. This means that the author's research findings are 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 the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group page: Why Open Access?

OA journals and licensing

Creative Commons licences provide a simple standardised way for authors to share their work with others. Offering works under a Creative Commons licence does not mean authors give up copyright. The licences allow users to reuse, remix and share the content legally, as long as they follow certain conditions. They are widely used and provide an excellent choice for managing the licencing aspect of publishing an OA journal.

 Authors publishing in your journal should sign an open access licence agreement. If no licence is applied Australian copyright law automatically applies. A CC licence makes it clear to users under what circumstances they can share and reuse the content without needing to visit the journal's sharing and reuse policy or contact the journal or author. Visit the Creative Commons website for more information and assistance in selecting the most appropriate licence for your and the authors' needs.

Financing your OA journal

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

  • Volunteer effort plays an important role in most not for profit OA journals' operations. Editorial help is relatively easy to source. It may be 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. 
  • You may be able to generate income through the journal’s operation:
    • Article Processing Fees charged to authors are a common method of funding OA journals. 
    • 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.
    • Society membership fees.

Maximise the discoverability of your OA journal and contents

How will researchers, librarians and the general public discover your journal and its content?

  • Journal indexes, directories, metadata harvesters and search engines 
    • Indexing and abstracting services enable the content of your journal to be integrated into the body of literature in its field and ensure articles can be easily located. Once your journal has a track record of timely publication and solid content, contact indexing and abstracting services for consideration. Look for journal indexes that cover your field. Some important indexes include:
    • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. See their page on how to get your journal content / article metadata indexed in DOAJ.
    • Ensure your journal is listed in as many relevant indexes and directories as possible.
    • Endeavour to have your articles discoverable in Google and Google Scholar. Google provides policy and technical information for scholarly publishers and societies.
    • The WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway provides you with a self-service tool, available at no charge, for harvesting the metadata of your unique, open-access digital content into WorldCat. Once there, your collections are more visible and discoverable to end users who search WorldCat as well as Google and other popular websites.
    • Trove, the Australian National Library gateway to Australian resources also harvests metadata from partner institutions including publishers and is searchable via Google.
  • International Standard Serial number (ISSN)
    • Obtain an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), a uniform worldwide means of uniquely identifying a serial publication. It is free and simple. Contact the Australian ISSN Agency.
  • Digital Object Identifiers (DOI)
    • ​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. Author's should cite the unique DOI given to their article when promoting their article online as the DOI will link to the full text and also enable systems such as PlumX and Altmetric to track mentions in social media, blogs and news items as well as citations, views, downloads and more.
  • Professional networking 
    • Announce the journal and new articles as they appear on professional mailing lists.
    • Include a link to your journal or the DOI for selected articles in your email signature.
    • Post on social media. Remember to use article DOIs.

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 (Chandos Pub, 2008).  This book by David J. Solomon provides a practical guide to developing and maintaining an electronic Open Access peer-reviewed scholarly journal. 

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 Guide. 34 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).

Making your "subscription" journal OA - friendly

Subscription-based journals can still 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 make your journal Open Access box 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 their own 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. 

UWA OA journals

Australasian journal of medieval and early modern studies.

Showcases the research of first year students at The University of Western Australia (UWA) enrolled in a biology unit.

A 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)

  • Westerly ​(issues become Open Access after three years)

Since 1956, Westerly has been publishing lively fiction and poetry as well as intelligent articles. It covers literature and culture throughout the world, but maintains a special emphasis on Australia, particularly Western Australia, and the Asian region.