Open access (OA) journals usually refers to journals whose publication model does not include charging users for access to the full-text of the articles in that journal. Users of OA journals have the rights to read, download, distribute, copy, and share articles they find in these titles.
Some organizations and governmental agencies have always created "open access" journals. Two examples of this are the the Bulletin of the World Health Organization and Environmental Health Perspectives.
However, the late 1990s and early 2000s saw two things happen which prompted the growth of the OA movement. One is the increased availability of Internet access across the world. The second is the frustration that some members of the academy have felt with the traditional, for-profit publishing model.
More and more open access journals are coming online. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is one way to identify OA journals.
Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is the annual accounting of journals by impact factors. The most recent version of JCR is 2008, which includes OA titles in the BioMedCentral and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) series of OA journals.
Here are some 2008 JCR rankings of OA titles that may be of interest to public health researchers:
- BMC Bioinformatics (#3 out of 29 titles in the Mathematics & Computational Biology category)
- BMC Health Services Research (#29 out of 62 titles in the Health Care Sciences Services category
- BMC Public Health (#46 out of 105 titles in the Pubic Health, Environmental Science and Occupational Health category
- PLoS Biology (#1 out of 22 titles in the Biology category)
- PLoS Computational Biology (#1 out of 29 titles in the Mathematical and Computational Biology category
- PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (#1 out of 15 titles in the Tropical Medicine category)
Both BMC and PLoS charge authors for article processing fees. The University of Minnesota is an institutional member of both groups which means that U of M authors get a 15% discount in these fees for BMC and a 10% discount in PLoS.
Our Transforming Scholarly Communication webiste has more information on Open Access, author's rights, copyright and other issues of interest to researchers and authors in academe.