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5-Day Impact Challenge

A guide on how to increase your scholarly impact in just 5 days!

Banner reading 5-Day Impact Challenge Day 3: Increase your reach through Open Access

Day 3: Increase your reach through Open Access

You've heard about the benefits of collecting your work using online scholarly profiles and tracking how people are engaging with your work. But how can you make sure that your work reaches as many people as possible?

Good news! Making your work available Open Access (OA) through OA journals and online repositories is a great way to increase the discoverability of your work. It has the added advantage of getting you more citations, views, Mendeley readers and Twitter mentions. What’s not to love about that?

In today’s challenge, we’ll discuss some advantages to publishing your work Open Access, share tips on how to publish OA, and introduce you to Duquesne's institutional repository, where you can make your work available OA.

What is Open Access?

The Open Access movement advocates for the “free and unrestricted online availability” (Budapest Open Access Initiative, 2002) of research outputs, including the papers, reports, datasets, and monographs that you produce as a researcher. Read on to learn more about how to start making your work more open and available.

You’ve likely run into open access scholarship without even knowing it! If you’ve accessed articles from PubMed Central, PLoS, or BioMed Central, you’re already familiar with what OA work looks like.

Benefits of open access

Making your work available open access can boost your scholarly profile by potentially netting you more views, downloads, and citations. Open access to research can also be considered to be a social justice issue. Finally, funders are increasingly requiring that the results of grant-funded research be made freely available. Benefits include:

  • More citations. As multiple studies have shown, open access journals can result in more citations (this is referred to in the literature as "citation advantage"). There are indications that data and monographs made available openly also receive more use.

  • More access for those who need it. There are plenty of people who might need access to your studies–scholars from small institutions, low-income countriespatient advocates, patients themselves, citizen scientists, and members of the general public. Publishing open access will enable a wide range of individuals to access and learn from your work.

  • More readers. A 2008 study showed that “full text downloads were 89% higher, PDF downloads 42% higher, and unique visitors 23% higher for open access articles than for subscription access articles.” These findings have been confirmed for other disciplines, as well. And a recent study by Euan Adie at showed that Mendeley readers were higher for OA articles, too.

  • More altmetrics. The same study found that OA articles also receive more tweets than toll-access journals, a finding which has additional support in the literature. 

  • Peer review. Open access journals peer review just like subscription journals. Just as highly-ranked subscription journals have rigorous peer review practices, so do highly-ranked OA journals. Many even practice open peer review, which seeks to make the peer review process more transparent.

  • Increased control over your content. If you publish in an OA journal, you will often retain the copyright to your article. This means you can do more with it in terms of reuse and sharing. You can also link others to OA publications of any type more easily, adding to the detail and accessibility of your online scholarly profile. 



  • Publishing in an open access journal can be expensive. Many OA journals charge publication fees that cost anywhere from $75 to $4,300, making OA publishing in certain journals a non-starter for underfunded researchers. Fee waivers are often available, though, and self-archiving a copy of your article in the Duquesne institutional repository is another route to making your work OA.

  • Some OA journals are fairly new. As a result, they may not have yet well-established metrics, such as their Journal Impact Factor. Article-level metrics can be an answer to this problem, though–a highly cited paper is still highly cited, no matter where it’s published. By the same token, some Open Access publications have very robust reputations.

  • Some bad actors have misused open access. Certain publishers lure authors with flattering emails, praising their work and inviting them to publish in seemingly prestigious journals. Called "predatory publishers," these journals typically have official-sounding names that are similar to the names of well-established and respected journals. These journals often practice no or low-standard peer review, sometimes have fabricated metrics or editorial boards, and will likely try to obtain your copyright and then charge a steep fee to publish the article. It’s best to be skeptical when you receive an unsolicited inquiry from a publisher. Check out the Be iNFORMEd checklist for some questions you might ask if you suspect you have been contacted by a predatory publisher. Remember, though--these practices are not representative of the practices or aims of open access publishing.

  • You may need to educate some of your peers about your choice to publish open access. Although open access publishing is not a new phenomenon, many myths and misunderstandings persist. You may find that you become something of an open access advocate when you talk about your experience! If you need ideas for how to indicate the quality of a journal in which you have published, speak to a librarian.

We think that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, especially given the pace with which academia is changing to embrace OA. Luckily, even if you've published in a traditional toll-access journal, you can make your articles OA retroactively. Allow us to explain...

Which open access approach is best for you?

There’s more than one way to be open access. In addition to publishing directly in an open access journal (or a traditional toll-access journal that offers an open access publishing option), you can also self-archive your traditionally published work using a platform such as Duquesne's institutional repository.

Publishing in an OA journal

Many OA journals like PLOS Biology and BMC Medicine require that authors pay a publication fee or “article processing charge” (APC) upon acceptance for publication. Other subscription-based journals offer the option to make your work OA for a fee; this is commonly called "hybrid OA." Not all OA journals require a fee however, and some publishers offer fee waivers for those who need financial assistance. With some careful planning, you can also cover OA publishing fees by writing the expected fees into a grant budget. 

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Self-archiving your work in Duquesne's institutional repository

Another model of open access is the practice of publishing an article as you normally would in a subscription journal, and later sharing a full-text copy of your article on a platform like your university's institutional repository. Typically, when you self-archive, the copy you upload is either a pre-print (pre-peer review) or a post-print (post-peer review but pre-journal formatting) version of the article. You can use the website SHERPA/RoMEO to determine whether or not the journal(s) in which you have published will allow you to share a version of your article, and which version you are permitted to share. When in doubt, contact a librarian!

Duquesne's institutional repository is accepting work from faculty and other members of the Duquesne community--read more about the repository and how you can include your work!


The Public Library of Science is an Open Access publisher which administers several high-ranking journals. Below are the most recent Duquesne publications from their interdisciplinary journal PLoS ONE.

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PubMed Central

PubMed Central provides free access to grant funded research as well as OA materials by participating journals. Check out the most recent publications by Duquesne faculty and graduate students!

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Lots to think about here, so we'll leave you to reflect. Tomorrow, we'll focus on finding other researchers and scholars online so you can share work within (and outside!) your disciplinary community.


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