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Subject LibGuides

Open Access: Gold OA

Is it Gold for me?

gold sunrise
'Gold' open access refers to work which is free to read and download from the publisher's website, with an open licence to facilitate re-use.
Publishers who offer a gold route often recoup their costs by charging the author a fee when their work is accepted for publication.  Open access fees, known as article processing charges (APCs), typically range between £200 - £5000, depending the discipline and the journal. 
Waivers or discounts may be offered to authors without any means of payment, or who are contributing to the success of the publication in other ways (e.g. an invited contribution, editorial/reviewer duties, or society membership).
Certain research funders offer financial support to funded authors to pay APCs. 
Some publishers enter into local or national agreements with libraries to convert subscription fees into APC waivers for authors at the subscribing institution.  
Open access platforms which don't charge fees to authors are known as 'diamond' OA.  Many 'diamond' publishers rely on financial support from a charity, scholarly/professional institution or research funding body. The global Directory of Open Access Journals recognises over 400 diamond OA titles (2022), ranging from multidisciplinary (e.g. Sustainable Environmental Research, from BMC) to highly specialised (e.g. Radical Americas, from UCL Press).

If you are unable to pay an article processing charge, and cannot identify a suitable 'diamond' platform, explore the 'green' route to open access.  Publish your paper in a journal which derives its income from subscribers rather than authors, and take advantage of any terms in your agreement to publish which enable you to self-archive your paper in an accredited OA repository.

Choosing where to publish

The SHERPA partnership of UKHEIs, funded by Jisc, maintains a number of online services to support open access publishing,  including:

  • SHERPA Romeo: search by journal title or publisher for a shortcut to authors' options for gold or green open access;
  • SHERPA Juliet: search by funder for an overview of their OA criteria for funded authors;
  • SHERPA FACT:  search by journal and funder for an instant check on whether the journal's OA options will enable you to comply with your funder's terms.

Choosing a licence

A key part of publishing open access material is ensuring that readers understand what permissions they have for re-use of the material. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association offers best practice guidelines on licensing and attribution in open access:

Please direct any questions to 

Predatory Publishers

Beware of predatory publishers who "lie about their business practices for the purpose of attracting paying authors"  (Rick Anderson, 2019).  If you receive an unsolicited invitation to submit a paper to a journal you don't recognise, treat it with suspicion.

  • A consortium of international medical societies has published a Joint Position Statement on Predatory Publishing (2021), incorporating guidance on the "defining characteristics of a predatory journal", applicable to all disciplines.
  • David H. Kaye, Emeritus Professor of Law at Penn State, blogs regularly about encounters with Flaky Academic Journals in all disciplines.  You can search the blog content for any references to journals you're worried about.
  • The international Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has published a discussion document (2019) identifying the key issues and proposing solutions to predatory publishing.
  • Hull Professor of Nursing Roger Watson has recorded a podcast (2016) on "steps you can take to protect yourself" from predatory publishers.


Think. Check. Submit. is a tool developed by scholarly publishers and societies,  to offer researchers a checklist that will help them decide if a publisher is trustworthy:

Think. Check. Submit.

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