‘Gold’ OA articles are free for anyone to read as soon as they are published in a journal. To do this, authors may have to pay a fee, known as an article processing charge (APC). Some funding bodies will cover the APC and there may also be waivers, for example for authors in some developing countries.
The Copyright license granted may vary depending on the individual journal and/or funding body requirements. Aim for a Creative Commons license that makes an article free to read and reuse.
All articles in ‘Gold’ journals are OA, whilst ‘Hybrid’ journals contain a mix of OA and pay-to-read (or subscribe) articles, where authors can choose to make articles OA on payment of an APC.
‘Platinum’ (also known as ‘Diamond’) OA journals do not levy an APC. They tend to be smaller and/or more local in scope4, with the APC often covered by a learned society or institution linked to the journal. The table below gives some examples of Gold, Hybrid and Platinum journals covering ecology and conservation.
|Type of OA||Journal||Publisher||APC (£)|
|Gold||Diversity and Distributions||Wiley||1650a|
|Gold||Global Ecology and Conservation||Elsevier||1260b|
|Gold||Journal of Freshwater Ecology||Taylor & Francis||925|
|Hybrid||Journal of Applied Ecology||Wiley||2291b,c|
|Hybrid||Trends in Ecology and Evolution||CellPress||3215b|
|Platinum||Journal of Pollination Ecology||Enviroquest Ltd.||N/A|
Table 1: Examples of Gold, Hybrid and Platinum OA journals based on information from DOAJ and publishers’ websites
a – 20% discount for International Biogeography Society members; b – USD exchange rate correct as of 27.01.20; c – £1711 for British Ecological Society members; d – APC covered by Institute of Applied Ecology; e – APC covered by Beijing Forest University
A comprehensive list of Gold and Platinum OA journals can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
The term ‘Bronze’ OA is sometimes applied to articles in a subscription journal or non-OA articles in a hybrid journal that are made free to read online. However, this may only be temporary – they could be put behind a paywall at any point. They might also come without any license information, which means they cannot be reused1.
Publishers might make selected articles ‘Bronze’ in order to attract readers and increase a journal’s profile3 but it is not really an ‘option’ for authors as it is the publisher who decides which articles are made ‘open’.
Gold OA checklist
- Which type of journal should I publish in – Gold, Hybrid or Platinum?
- How much is the APC and are there any discounts and/or waivers?
- Is the APC covered by the funding body?
- Which Copyright licenses are offered?