Q&A open access

The FAQ have been categorized according to the following topics: General questions about open access, Questions about open access for scientists, Questions about negotiations with publishers and the role of other stakeholders, Current status on negotiations per publisher (Elsevier, SAGE, Springer, Wiley, OUP, ACS, Taylor & Francis, Wolters Kluwer and other publishers) and How about LingOA.

Questions about open access for scientists


What changes will open access bring to scientists?

Open access means that everyone can access articles more easily and that knowledge can be shared more effectively. In most cases upfront payment (i.e., when offering articles for publication) is necessary in order to continue facilitating the peer-review assessment system for scientific articles. At the same time, the objective is for scientists not to notice this to any great extent, because as with subscriptions, it will be arranged through bulk contracts.

What are hybrid journals?

In hybrid journals, all articles are available to subscribers and some articles are available to everyone as they are made open access. With these journals, you can choose to publish an article as open access. The problem is that universities then pay double: they pay first to offer open access to an article, and then again to be able to read an article through subscriptions. This is known as ‘double dipping’.

An increasing number of open access journals is available; how can I know which ones are good?

The website offers a full overview of all high-quality peer-reviewed open access journals in various subject areas.


Aren’t non-open access journals just better because their quality control is better organised?

There are examples of good and bad subscription journals, and examples of good and bad open access journals. At most you could say that some renowned journals have a long tradition and their tradition is to use paid-for subscriptions.

Will we still have access to the best journals under open access?

In the negotiations, access to journals (subscriptions) is being linked to open access to prevent the loss of that access. Intensive negotiations are underway to ensure that science is made accessible to the public in an affordable manner. In the long term, this will save money by removing ‘double dipping’ and make scientific results more readily accessible.

What role do scientists play in the publication of journals?

The production of international journals relies on the expertise and input of scientists -  including those from Dutch universities. This might include positions as editor in chief, reviewer, editors, and membership of a journal’s advisory board.

How does a journal’s editorial department work, and what does a journal’s advisory board do?

An editor in chief leads a team of editors, chairs editorial boards and is responsible for the day to day running of a magazine. For example, he/she will ensure the content of articles fits with the scope of the journal, and that its standards are maintained. The scope and policy of a journal are often set down by an advisory board. The journal’s owner (such as the publisher or learned society) will have a voice in that too. Advisory boards often include big names from a particular scientific discipline.    

Editorial teams usually consist of an international team of editors and associate editors. Editors have more defined tasks within the editorial team or the review process, and attend all the editorial boards. It is standard practice for each submitted article to be read and assessed by at least one member of the editorial team. Associate editors are a circle that sits around that. Their name is associated with the journal and they often act as article reviewers, but do so on a more ad hoc basis.

How will open access affect researchers who are not affiliated with a university or medical centre? Will they still be able to publish?

The model of gold open access changes how the publication of articles is paid for: from paying for access to articles to paying for publishing of an article. Researchers who are affiliated with a university or medical centre can follow the agreements as made within the big deal negotiations. Researchers without such an affiliation will be required to pay for the publication of an article. Of course, they too benefit from the open access transition to freely accessible publications.

Does the ‘ranking’ and evaluation of researchers change if they publish open access?

Universities do not rank researchers themselves. Researchers are free to rank each other's work as they see fit. However, it is reasonable to assume that open access journals will be more highly valued if more journals decide to adopt the open access principle. Assessments of researchers should not be based solely on the reputation of the journals in which they publish. The quality of the content of their academic work should also be factored into the evaluation.

To underline this principle, on 3 December 2014 VSNU president Karl Dittrich signed the ‘San Francisco Declaration’ on behalf of the Dutch universities. This international declaration calls on universities, academic organisations, public authorities and publishers to evaluate academic research on quality and social relevance over aspects such as the reputation of the journal in which the research is published or its Journal Impact Factor.