Is the OPEN Access Publication Model Sustainable?

“Open access” is the term used to describe literature that is available to any reader at no cost on the Internet. The copyright owner—usually the author—allows the user to freely read, download, copy, print, distribute, search, link to the full text of the article, crawl it for indexing, convert the reported data to software, or use the article for any other lawful purpose [1].

The tradition of scientists and academics sharing their research findings in academic journals dates back centuries. These publications serve the dual purpose of advancing investigation and education. With the advent of the internet, reporting practices and publishing technologies have evolved, offering unprecedented opportunities for disseminating knowledge and preserving it for future generations.

Open Access (OA) entails the unrestricted availability of research articles on the public internet, enabling universal access for reading, downloading, printing, scanning, and usage without constraints. As the scholarly community worldwide embraces OA publication formats, OA journals are anticipated to proliferate in both the number of articles published and journal titles, marking a significant shift in the academic publishing landscape.

The most frequently discussed remedies for the troubled current system are the “green” road (self-archiving articles published in non-OA journals) and the “gold” road (publishing in OA journals). Both movements will likely intensify, with a multiplicity of models and initiatives coexisting for some time [2].

Understanding Open Access

Before diving into sustainability, let’s recap what OA entails:

  1. Gold OA:
    • In Gold OA, the final published version of an article is freely available online.
    • Authors pay Article Processing Charges (APCs) to cover publishing costs.
    • Immediate global access benefits researchers and readers alike.
  2. Green OA:
    • Green OA involves self-archiving earlier versions (preprints or postprints) in repositories.
    • The final published version may still be behind a paywall, but the author’s version is freely accessible.

Challenges to Sustainability

  1. Economic Viability:
  • OA journals rely on APCs, which can be a barrier for researchers with limited funding.
  • Balancing affordability while maintaining quality is crucial.
  1. Quality Assurance:
  • Skepticism exists about the quality of articles in OA journals.
  • The rise of predatory journals highlights the need for rigorous peer review.
  1. Predatory Publishers:
  • Some publishers exploit OA by charging fees without ensuring quality.
  • Researchers must choose reputable journals carefully.
  1. Funding Models:
  • Gold OA relies on APCs, while Green OA depends on institutional repositories.
  • Finding sustainable funding sources is essential.

Pathways to Sustainability

  1. Subscribe-to-Open (S2O):
  • Journals transition from subscription access to OA.
  • Libraries continue paying to keep journals financially viable.
  • Balances accessibility and financial stability.
  1. UN SDG Publisher’s Compact:
  1. Equitable Solutions:
  • Eliminating financial barriers to OA.
  • Co-creating solutions with research communities.
  • Ensuring inclusive policies shape OA journals.


Open-access publishing stands as the inevitable trajectory for scholarly dissemination. Yet, the imperative lies in ensuring its sustainability, safeguarding both its vast potential and the indispensable principles of quality, integrity, and transparency. The essence of research lies not just in its accessibility but also in its reliability. Hence, the near future promises a dynamic landscape characterized by constant evolution and experimentation, driven by advancing technologies. As a university press, we perceive our role as that of a reliable ally, navigating this era of transformation alongside our customers and partners. We commit to offering steadfast guidance and support while actively investing in innovative solutions, thereby spearheading a fair and sustainable transition towards open access.

It appears that publication quality is of utmost importance when choosing publication venues in general, while free access and visibility are specifically noted incentives for selection of OA journals.[3].


  1. Guerrero, R., & Piqueras, M. (2004). Open access: A turning point in scientific publication. International Microbiology7(3), 157-161.
  2. Albert, K. M. (2006). Open access: implications for scholarly publishing and medical libraries. Journal of the Medical Library Association94(3), 253.
  3. Warlick, S. E., & Vaughan, K. T. L. (2007). Factors influencing publication choice: why faculty choose open access. Biomedical digital libraries4, 1-12.

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