VCU LibrariesResearch Guides

Open Access

Assessing Journal Quality

For help with identifying and evaluating open access publications, contact the library liaison for your subject area or the Scholarly Communications Outreach Librarian. 

If you've found an open access journal relevant to your research and want to ensure its quality, check if the journal is included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and see if the publisher is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)Other evaluation criteria you might want to consider include the journal's profit model, peer review process, journal metrics and impact factor, and the credentials of the editorial board and previously published authors. For more information, see the positive and negative indicators described in this guide to assessing journal quality from Boston College University Libraries.

Avoid Predatory Publishers

While most open access journals are legitimate and not predatory, all predatory publishers claim to be legitimate open access publishers. The term “predatory publishing” describes opportunistic entities that exploit researchers by charging fees while providing little or none of their promised services and benefits.

Learn more about predatory publishing and how to identify and avoid predatory journals.

How Open Is It?

The HowOpenIsIt?®” Open Access Spectrum (OAS) guide is an easily understandable, comprehensive resource created by PLOS, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).

The guide moves the conversation from “Is It Open Access?” to “HowOpenIsIt?®” and helps users compare and contrast the openness of different publications and publishing policies on a continuum of more open versus less open. 

Open Access Publishing Options -- Journals

  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • Highwire Press
  • Hindawi
  • Open Library of Humanities
  • Public Library of Science (PLoS)

Open Access Publishing Options -- Monographs

  • Cambridge University Press: Open Access Monograph Publishing Service
  • Knowledge Unlatched