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Open Access

The purpose of this guide is to provide resources and information to the UMass Chan Medical School community about open access (OA) scholarly publishing.

Selecting an open access journal for publication

Open access journals have been successfully producing and disseminating high quality research for more than two decades with high impact  journals in a wide range of disciplines. 

Criteria for evaluating an open access journal

  • Have you heard of the journal before?
  • Have you read any articles in the journal? If not, read several articles - do they meet your standards for scientific rigor?
  • Have any of your colleagues published articles in the journal?
  • Do you recognize the members of the Editorial Board?
  • Is the journal published by an established publisher or recognized professional society?
  • Is the journal peer-reviewed? Does the journal provide a description of the review process?
  • Is the journal's standard fee schedule publicly accessible?
  • Is the journal listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)?  DOAJ is an online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
  • Does the journal have stated ethical policies and practices? Are the editors guided by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) or other best practices?
  • Is the journal indexed in an established and reputable database such as PubMed, Web of Science, or Scopus?

Predatory publishers

Predatory publishers charge fees for open access publishing without providing the editorial and administrative services associated with legitimate journals. They "prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices” (Nature consensus statement, 2019).

These unethical, deceptive or questionable practices include:

  • Eliminating or automating peer review
  • Misrepresenting editorial boards and impact metrics
  • Not submitting content to major indexing and abstracting databases
  • Cloaking APCs until the article has been published
  • Harassing authors to submit manuscripts or submit payment.

Think. Check. Submit


Not all open access journals are predatory. Predatory publishers are an aggressive exception. Authors should evaluate each venue they consider for publication before submitting a manuscript. Use the criteria above and the Think. Check. Submit website to help distinguish an ethical publisher from an unethical one. Follow their journal checklist to assess journals and make sure you choose trusted journals for your research (there is also a book/chapter checklist).

Still unsure? Consult a trusted mentor, colleague or librarian.

Where to publish

For more information about finding and evaluating journals -- including tools that allow you to quickly and easily generate a list of potential peer-reviewed journals to submit a specific manuscript to for publication -- see our Where to Publish? guide.