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Scholarly Publishing: Overview

Getting your Scholarship Published

When looking at options for publication, there are a variety of factors that may affect scholarly impact. Sometimes, "impact" is a matter of targeting your publications to reach a specific audience or to achieve particular results in disseminating, providing access, allowing for re-use, or preserving your work over the long term so that it continues to be read and used. You may want to research some of these factors before choosing a venue for your work.

Things to consider:

Audience: Who do you want to read your work? A scholarly or general audience? Scholars in a particular discipline or across disciplines? International scholars? Students? Multi-lingual audiences?

 Accessibility: Who can access the work?  Only those with subscriptions or institutional affiliations? Only those in a particular region or country? Those with disabilities?

 Format: Does print or electronic publication work better for your audience(s)? Does the work itself require visual or audio components not available in print? Does the format affect the accessibility of your work? Is it an easily preservable format?

 Indexing: Is the journal or other publication widely indexed in the major indexing & abstracting databases (EBSCOhost, Scopus, Gale, OCLC, ProQuest, Thomson Reuters, etc.)? Is it indexed in specific disciplinary databases relevant to your work? Is it available in full-text or abstract-only databases?

 Acceptance rates: What percentage of submitted articles/book proposals are accepted? Do you need a highly selective journal or publisher for the current work? Would a less selective journal that reaches your target audience(s) be a better choice?

 Turnaround time: What is the average turnaround times between submission & decision or between decision & publication? How many reviewers or review stages are there? How long are you able/willing to wait for publication?

 Publication fees: Are you prepared to pay a reasonable publication fee (sometimes called an “article processing charge” or APC) for publication or broader access?  Is this common in your discipline? Can it be subsidized by your institution or funding agency?

 Publication agreements & Authors' rights: Who controls access and copyright to your published work? Can you distribute or re-use it independently of your publisher? Can other scholars do the same? Will it be preserved by your publisher, your institutional repository, or some other disciplinary repository?

 Level of risk: Given your current career stage and goals, how much risk are you willing to assume? Are traditional metrics necessary for your promotion or review process? Can you afford a longer turnaround time, an innovative format, a newer or more-focused niche journal, or an open access publication? Are you willing to try a different peer review model (open, community, or formative review)? How open is your discipline or department to innovative forms of scholarship and publication?

What is open access?

Per the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), "Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment." This definition refers to research articles, but OA publishing can include many types of research outputs, such as conference papers, presentations, and posters; datasets; books/monographs; and more. The rights portion of the definition refers to the fact that most OA articles carry a license that allows readers to freely retain, copy, and share the work, at a minimum. 

More formally, the Budapest Open Access Initiative defines open access as follows:

"By 'open access' to [peer-reviewed research literature], we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."

Why should I consider publishing in an open access journal?


Publishing in an open access journal will greatly increase the impact of your work. An impressive body of research has shown that the following increases usually occur, though they can differ by discipline. (source, source)

  • PDF downloads = +42%
  • Unique visitors = +23%
  • Citations = +18%
  • Worldwide reach, even to Global South

Funder Mandates

Federal funding agencies (and some private foundations) now require articles reporting results of funded research to be publicly accessible within 12 months of publication, so if your work was supported by external grants, you may be required to publish in an open access journal. See this page for more information.

Speed of Publication

"A recent study examined 135 journals listed in the Scopus citation index and showed that the time from acceptance to publication is significantly shorter for OA journals compared with traditional journals." (source, source)

Types of open access

Green Open Access
Access through a digital repository is known as green open access. Digital repositories function as storehouses of publications organized around an institution or discipline. For example, the UTA ResearchCommons hosts scholarly and creative works, research, publications, and reports contributed by faculty, students, staff, and administrative units, while hosts papers mainly in the physical sciences. Content in repositories often includes peer-reviewed content (publisher's version aka post-print) as well as pre-prints, the version of an article before it undergoes peer review.

Gold Open Access
Access through a journal/publisher is known as gold open access. Gold open access can be confusing because there are many variations, such as libre or gratis. Libre means that the article is "digital, online, free of charge, and free of unnecessary copyright and licensing restrictions;" however, gratis means that the article is free to read but retains permissions barriers to reuse. Most gold open access is only gratis. Some journals offer to make an article open access but only with an additional charge. These journals are known as hybrid journals because they offer both closed and open content.

Gray Open Access
Gray open access is often described as self-archiving. Authors make their work accessible on personal, group, or departmental websites, or send print copies or email PDFs to colleagues. While gray open access may seem like the easiest and least complicated way to share research it has some major shortcomings:

  • Personal websites are often short lived, poorly maintained, and hard to locate.
  • There is no easy way to track who is viewing or downloading your work.
  • There is no promise of long-term access.
  • When you change institutions your old department or lab often takes down your old website.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual Property
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright, and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.

Copyright is a bundle of rights. When you sign a contract for publication, you may be okay with transferring some rights to the publisher, but you may want to keep others. It is possible to modify a contract to reflect your needs. You may want to create a derivative work in the future (by offering a translation or including an article in future publication) so you would write that into your contract. You can also modify your contract by adding an addendum. Here are some helpful resources; see also this guide on Copyright for Authors:

  • Creative Commons: This nonprofit organization provides a set of copyright licenses free for public use that define a middle way between copyright and the public domain – or between all rights reserved and no rights reserved.
  • SPARC Addendum: if you have a copyright transfer agreement from a publisher and you don't want to transfer your copyright or want to retain some rights, then you can fill out and attach an Author's Addendum to the contract. By retaining some or all of your rights, you can ensure that you can use the material in your classroom, deposit in an institutional repository, self-archive, and use for future projects.

A trademark differs from both patents and copyright. It is a word, name, or symbol adopted or used by an individual, corporation, or other entity to distinguish its goods or services from others' goods or services. When a mark is registered, the trademark owner obtains certain rights and benefits. Rights to a trademark are established by adoption and actual use, not by authorship as in copyright or by inventorship as in patents. 
For more information on trademarks, see the resources provided by UTA's Office of Technology Management.

A patent is a property right which gives the holder the exclusive right to exclude others from the manufacture, use, and sale of the invention for a period of time. As property, it may be sold or assigned, pledged, mortgaged, licensed, willed, or donated, and it may be the subject of contracts and other agreements. When inventors secure a patent, they have the opportunity to profit by the manufacture, sale, or use of the invention in a protected market or by charging others for making or using it. Foreign patents are often important for commercial development. 
For more information on patents, see the resources provided by UTA's Office of Technology Management.