As part of Open Access Week 2012 we had a drop-in session where staff and students could come and ask any questions they had about open access, publishing and/or LSHTM Research Online. One situation was presented from a PhD student who was planning a publication and wanted advice on how to make it open access. What should be simple actually reveals itself to be a careful balancing act. I've tried to list the different areas to consider when choosing a journal
1. Choosing the journal: Many different journals to publish in and one of your first thoughts should be which journal would I like to publish in and which journal is suitable for my research. Once you have a few names then you need to find out how this journal fits with an Open Access policy
2. Where to look: A great place to look for specific Open Access journals is the Directory of Open Access Jounals (DOAJ) http://www.doaj.org/ this is searchable and browsable by subject area so you should be able to find a range of journals. You then need to find out if they require a fee, this information will be at the end of each listing.
3. Fees: Since you are a research/PhD student you probably, or lets say definitely don’t have funds to pay an open access article processing charge (APC). So What do you do? Some journals don’t make any charge but some do. If the journal you want to publish in has a fee you should check that whether or not they have a ‘waiver’ for students, if they don’t list one you should still contact them to find out if they would consider a ‘waiver’ or if the fee can be reduced. Publishers such as PLoS state that they will not refuse to publish and article that they have accepted due to inability to pay their fee http://www.plos.org/publish/pricing-policy/publication-fees/. BioMed Central state that when you submit your paper you should request a ‘waiver’ and they will consider your situation http://www.biomedcentral.com/about/apcfaq/waivers
4. Licenses: These are important for Open Access since it allows others to be able to use your publication in various ways. The ideal license is CC-BY which is a Creative Commons license that allows anyone to reuse or redistribute your publication in any manner they see fit as long as you are credited. Both PLoS and BioMed Central use these licenses.
5. Deposit into an open access institutional repository such as LSHTM Research Online: This will also make your publication open access. For many publishers such as Elsevier you can publish with them but make an earlier version, the author accepted manuscript (after peer review but without publisher pagination, typesetting) available in an institutional repository. This would mean that you would not have to make any payment. You can check what publishers/journals allow by looking on SherpaRomeo http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/
6. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can provide more information and help on choosing a journal