The language of the Budapest Open Access Initiaitive (2002), which describes the general characteristics of open access literature, is applicable to open access journals: these are journals that are freely available on the public internet "without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself."
In his description of open access (OA) journals, OA expert Peter Suber makes the following additional points:
- "OA journals conduct peer review
- OA journals find it easier than non-OA journals to let authors retain copyright
- Some OA journal publishers are non-profit (e.g. Public Library of Science or PLoS) and some are for-profit (e.g. BioMed Central or BMC)
- OA journals pay their bills very much the way broadcast television and radio stations do: those with an interest in disseminating the content pay the production costs upfront so that access can be free of charge for everyone with the right equipment
- A common misunderstanding is that all OA journals use an "author pays" business model. There are two mistakes here. The first is to assume that there is only one business model for OA journals, when there are many. The second is to assume that charging an upfront fee is an "author pays" model. In fact, most OA journals (70%) charge no author-side fees at all. Moreover, most conventional or non-OA journals (75%) do charge author-side fees. When OA journals do charge fees, the fees are usually (88%) paid by author-sponsors (employers or funders) or waived, not paid by authors out of pocket.
- We can be confident that OA journals are economically sustainable because the true costs of peer review, manuscript preparation, and OA dissemination are considerably lower than the prices we currently pay for subscription-based journals. There's more than enough money already committed to the journal-support system. Moreover, as OA spreads, libraries will realize large savings from the conversion, cancellation, or demise of non-OA journals."
Source of quoted material: Budapest Open Access Initiative (February 14, 2002) and Peter Suber, Open Access Overview (Last revised December 16, 2013)