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Chemistry: Open Access

A starting point for identifying, locating, using, and evaluating materials relating to chemistry in the Carmichael Library and on the Internet.

Open Access Initiatives

Funder Mandates

The NIH Public Access Policy, implemented in 2008, requires that all publications arising from NIH-funded research be sumbitted to the digital archive PubMed Central.  These publications may be embargoed for up to 12 months, but after that period must be made accessible to the public.  

Similarly, since 2008, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has required that authors archive research conducted using its facilities in Open Access archives.  All biological and biomedical journal articles must be deposited in PubMed within 6 months of publication.  For more information, see

Wellcome Trust requires that researchers deposit the articles funded in part or in full by the organization in Open Access archives--UK PubMed Central or, alternatively, PubMed Central.  The organization also encourages compliance for all earlier projects.  For more information, see

Royal Society of Chemistry Open Access Information 

Other funder mandates may be found in the Sherpa Juliet list of Research funders' open access policies.


What is Open Access?

"Open access (OA) literature is a method of sharing scholarship that is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes OA possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.  OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review.  OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce than conventionally published literature."

--From A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access by Peter Suber.

There are two major approaches to OA:

  • Green:  publishing in traditional journals and archiving in open access repositories, such as eScholarship, arXiv, and SSRN
  • Gold:  publishing in open access journals


How do I assess the quality of Open Access sources?

There are many OA journals to choose from, of varying quality.  In December 2013, DOAJ, OASPA, COPE, and WAME released the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, in order to identify criteria "that set apart legitimate journals and publishers from non-legitimate ones and to clarify that these principles form part of the criteria on which membership applications will be evaluated."

Here are some additional approaches to assessing quality, drawn from a variety of sources:

  1. Is the journal included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)?
  2. Is the publisher a member in the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), which has produced a code of conduct for OA publishers?
  3. Is the journal listed in Beall's List of Potential, Possible, or Probably Predatory Open-Access Journals?  Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, has developed criteria for determining predatory open access publishers.
  4. Is the journal indexed in a major academic database, such as Web of Science or PubMed? Ulrich's Periodicals Directory includes indexing information for journals.  (Special Libraries Association, n.d.)
  5. Does the publisher provide full, verifiable contact information, including address, on the journal site? Be cautious of those that provide only web contact forms. (Butler, 2013)
  6. Does the journal's editorial board include recognized experts with full affiliations? Contact some of them and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher. (Butler, 2013)
  7. Does the journal prominently display its policy for author fees? (Butler, 2013)
  8. Be wary of e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members. (Butler, 2013)
  9. What is the quality of the articles that the journal has published? Contact past authors to ask about their experiences. (Butler, 2013)
  10. Does the journal have a clearly described peer-review process? Verify any impact factor claims. (Butler, 2013)
  11. Does the publisher have an archiving or preservation policy? Examples of established archiving services include Portico or LOCKKS (Special Libraries Association, n.d.)


Butler, D. (2013). Investigating journals:  The dark side of publishingNature, 495(7442).  Accessed September 23, 2013, from

Millard, W.B. (2013)  Some research wants to be free, some follows the moneyAnnals of Emergency Medicine, 62(2), 14A-20A.  Accessed October 8, 2013, from

Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).  (2013, December 19).  Principles of transparency and best practice in scholarly publishing.  Accessed January 8, 2013, from

Special Libraries Association. (n.d.). Should I publish in, or be an editor for, and Open Access (OA) journal?: A brief guide.  Accessed September 23, 2013, from


Amy Studer
Health & Life Sciences Librarian
Blaisdell Medical Library
University of California Davis

Finding OA Depositories

To search for open access books, journals, or subject or discipline specific repositories please see:

The Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR)

Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR)