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Open Access and Scholarly Communications: Busting OA Myths

Created by Health Science Librarians

OA Myths

Myth #1: Faculty can always freely use their own published content.

Myth #2: Articles in Open Access journals are low-quality.

Myth #3: Open Access is just a way for libraries to save money.

Myth #4: Open Access publishing methods are all the same.

Myth #5: Open Access does not work as an economic model.

Reusing your own published work

Myth #1: Faculty can freely use their own published content in courses they teach.

Myth Busted

  • This is often not true. If you transferred your copyright to the publisher at the time of publication, as many authors do, the publisher may restrict your right to re-use the content in teaching and publication.


  • Publish in an Open Access publication so that everyone immediately and always has free access to your work
  • Publish in a journal that allows you to retain the rights you need to re-use your own work in teaching and publication
  • Negotiate the specific rights that you need at the time of publication.
  • Whether or not you negotiate, at least locate your rights in the contract and store the details in the same place you store the content.


Open Access journals have lower quality articles

Myth #2: Articles in Open Access journals are not peer-reviewed, are of lower quality, and are the equivalent of self-publication.

Myth Busted

  • Scholarly Open Access journals follow peer-review procedures similar to other scholarly journals.
  • Among the top 100 journals ranked by Journal Impact Factor, 66 are Hybrid Open Access and 5 are Gold Open Access, including highly-respected journals such as Lancet, Nature, Cell, and Science.
  • There is some scholarly debate over whether an “Open Access Citation Advantage (OACA)” exists. In a systematic review of 134 studies, Langham-Putrow et al. (2021) found that 71.7% supported the existence of OACA to some degree, but varied reporting methods posed challenges for generalizations.
  • Some studies have found a significant relationship between Open Access and Altmetrics, although more research is needed to determine whether this is a general trend.


  • Judge the quality of Open Access journals and articles the same way you would any other: by reading the content.
  • Consider the impact of Open Access articles' increased usage when you choose where to publish.


Open Access is just cost shifting

Myth #3: Open Access is just a way for libraries to save money by shifting the cost of scholarly publications to authors and funding agencies.

Myth Busted

  • It's a bit more complicated than that. It is true that the rising costs of the scholarly publishing system have put increasing pressure on library budgets, and Open Access has been suggested as a solution, but in practice it doesn't directly translate to cost savings. What's more important in terms of budgets is that we all work towards a more usable system for libraries, readers, and researchers.


  • When publishing Open Access, consider the costs and benefits of different Open Access publishing methods. Try to choose options that will move the system towards greater openness, access, and affordability.
  • Before submitting to a journal, find out their prices for Article Processing Charges (APCs), page charges, etc. If possible, try to account for these costs in grant applications.
  • Support models that increase access to scholarly publications such as institutional and subject repositories (Green Open Access) and journals that don't charge fees (Diamond Open Access).


All Open Access is the same

Myth #4: All forms of Open Access and Public Access are essentially the same.

Myth Busted

  • Federal Public Access Policies give researchers very specific guidance about what counts as "Public Access" for federally-funded articles. However, many forms of Open Access do not satisfy the requirements of Public Access, while others exceed them.
  • Federal policies align most closely with Green Open Access. In this model, articles are published in a journal that may or may not be Open Access. While the final, edited and formatted version of the article is only available on the publisher's website, Green Open Access allows an author to deposit an earlier version into an Institutional Repository (such as the Carolina Digital Repository, CDR) or a Subject Repository (such as PubMed Central).
  • Many publishers do not allow Green Open Access until a one-year "embargo" period after the article's official publication date (the newest guidance from the OSTP, issued in October 2022, would eliminate the embargo period). Additionally, publishers have differing restrictions on which version of the article can be deposited: either the Submitted Manuscript (pre-peer review), Accepted Manuscript (post-peer review), or the Version of Record (VoR, the final published article).


  • Publish in Open Access journals to provide immediate free access to your work for everyone.
  • Comply with the NIH Public Access Policy on all articles published since April 2008 that were derived from NIH funding by depositing in PubMed Central to provide open access to the author manuscript after the embargo period as set by the publisher.
  • Lobby for FRPPA and encourage legislators to keep the publisher's embargo period as short as possible.


Open Access does not work as an economic model

Myth #5: Open Access is not a viable business model.

Myth Busted

  • Fully open access publishers like Frontiers and MDPI have shown that the Gold Open Access publishing model is economically viable, and larger publishers have increasingly moved their journals to Gold or Hybrid models, while still maintaining record-high profit margins. For many journals, subscriptions have been exchanged for Article Processing Charges (APCs), in which authors pay a fee to publish their work open access. In some cases, these fees can be as high as $11,000 for a single article.
  • Alternative models such as Diamond and Green Open Access are more equitable because they do not charge fees either for publishing or for reading articles. Funding for these models needs to come from somewhere, but there are enough successful examples to show that it can be a viable way to publish scholarly articles.


  • Authors should consider whether Green Open Access (self-archiving) or Diamond Open Access (journals with a $0 APC) might make sense for their publications. They are more common in some disciplines than others, but almost every discipline has at least one Diamond journal, and repositories are increasingly becoming a valuable part of the research system.
  • Institutions and research funders should investigate sustainable forms of scholarly communications and invest in sustainable and scholar-led initiatives.


UNC Scholarly Communications Office

The Scholarly Communications Officer provides guidance, policy development, and advocacy to faculty, students, and staff on the following issues:

  • Copyright and fair use

  • Authors’ rights

  • Privacy rights

  • Open access

  • Policy related to scholarly material

For more information, visit the Scholarly Communications Office webpage, or contact Scholarly Communications Officer Anne Gilliland, MSLS, JD