Q: What is an open access journal?

An open access journal is an academic journal in which the articles can be accessed for free for anyone to read anywhere in the world.

Q: What is an APC?

A: An APC (Article Processing Charge) is a fee that open access journals will normally require authors to pay in order to have their articles available as open access.

Q: Why do authors have to pay a fee to publish in an open access journal?

Producing an article for publication costs money (that’s why corporate publishers charge subscriptions to read their articles). There are costs for copy editing, for layout, registration of the DOI, carrying out plagiarism checks, and the website the articles are hosted on. On top of that, our staff spend a lot of time and energy liaising with the editors of the individual journals, and we need to be able to eat too! In a subscription model (where you or your institution subscribes to a journal), these costs are carried by the readers, but these can be invisible to those who belong to an institution who subscribes to the journal. Many authors these days are choosing to publish as open access as there is increasing evidence that open access articles are more often downloaded than subscription journals, and their research is available to anyone in the world, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Our costs are extremely reasonable, and we try to keep them to an absolute, but sustainable, minimum. Comparing costs of other journals here shows that our APCs are extremely reasonable (please check here). Note that these costs are only payable after an article has been accepted for publication.

Q: Are there free open access journals?

A: Yes, there are free open access journals, but these are typically paid for by some organisation, such as an academic institution or research body. There are even some journals that are completely voluntary, but sadly these are often difficult to sustain. 

Q: What is a predatory publisher/journal?

A predatory publisher pretends that they publish a genuine academic journal, but fails to provide the services that they promise, most notably a proper review process. They charge a fee as an open access journal, but there is no quality control. There is typically no single editor (or co-editors) looking after a journal in their area of expertise, and journals tend to have a very broad focus. Predatory publishers will often send out invitations to people who recently presented at conferences telling them that they are interested in their paper, often asking them if they’d like to join their editorial boards at the same time. Legitimate journals have their editorial boards chosen by the editor, who is usually someone who has an established reputation in a field specific to the theme of the journal. The editors of every journal published by Castledown Publishers are respected academics in the field, and they have hand-picked their editorial board members based on their knowledge and publication records.

Q: Doesn’t paying a fee mean a pay-to-publish journal?

The expression “pay to publish” carries the connotation that a journal will publish anything if an author pays a fee for it. All of our journals have the policy that if the editor of the journal does not think that an article is good enough, it will NOT be published. The editor puts their own reputation on the line when deciding what articles to accept and reject, and payment will only be required if an article has been accepted in order to meet the costs of producing it. We have absolutely no say in whether an article gets published or not, as this is up to the judgement of the editor and the editorial board of each journal.

Q: I can access all the research articles I want through my institution, so why do people want to pay to publish in open access?

A: If your institution (such as a university) pays for your subscription for research published by the major publishers, you are in a very enviable position. Many people around the world are working in institutions that simply don’t have the money to pay for the subscriptions of the major publishers, which can reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Through paying a small fee to make your article available through open access, it means that people in less affluent countries or circumstances, or even people working outside of academia, that would like to read your research are able to do so without worrying about the costs. Major conglomerate publishers make enormous profits from journal subscriptions, in most cases for many years after an article is published.

Q: Do you offer discounts for authors who can’t afford the APC?

We offer discounted rates for authors who come from recognised countries on the OECD list of developing countries. We also offer discounts for students in full-time study. It is possible to apply for a complete fee waiver if the author can demonstrate that it is beyond their financial ability to pay the APC for their article.  

Q: Is an open access journal easier to get published in than a paper-based one?

A: No, there is no relationship between a journal being open access or not and quality of research published. It is true that there are a lot of low quality open access journals, but this is predominantly regarding journals from predatory publishers who just want to publish as much as they can, simply for profit and regardless of quality. An open access journal with a proper review process is no easier to get published in than a subscription paper-based or online journal with the same review process.

Q: If I publish in a Castledown journal, who owns the copyright of my article?

The copyright of all articles published in Castledown journals remains with the author. All published articles are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. These licences are designed to protect the authors, and we strongly believe that the rights of the authors should be respected at all costs.

Q: What is indexing, and why is it important?

A: Indexing is a process where certain organisations will look at the quality of articles published in a journal to decide if they should be included in the lists that they create. Some of the most famous indexes are Scopus, MLA International Bibliography, EBSCO, and ERIC. Our journals are already indexed in some of these famous indexes, and we are continuing to have them considered for inclusion. Some journals will claim that they are indexed in Google Scholar, but there is little or no human intervention in this selection process, so this is not an indicator of quality. Others are included in very obsure indexes that are usually created by organisations to try to validate their own research journals. The best idea is to look at some famous journals in your field and see where they are indexed. Good open access journals will also be cited in these journals if they have been published for a sufficient period of time.