Skip to main content

Common myths about open access...busted!

With open access publishing making up an increasingly growing element of the scientific literature, attitudes are certainly changing. However, many authors still have preconceptions about open access, which we aim to expose as myths, and then bust them with real–life data and examples. 

Open access myths


Back to top

“Publishing my work open access is a nice thing to do, but there is nothing in it for me.”

Only 25% of early career researchers surveyed in the elife article 'What do early-career researchers think about open access?' felt they directly benefited from open access.

OA does benefit readers:

  • Unrestricted online access to all published articles globally.

OA benefits authors:

  • Higher downloads and citations according to The Open Access Citation Advantage Service provided by SPARC Europe.
  • Increased visibility leads to greater public engagement and accessibility. The Wellcome Trust report that open access articles they have funded were downloaded 89% more when compared with access-controlled content.
  • OA results in accelerated science. A study of open access and non-open access PNAS articles published between June 8, 2004, and December 20, 2004 supported the view that open access accelerates the process by which researchers built upon existing research, showing that open access articles are cited earlier and are, on average, cited more often than non-open access articles.
  • OA facilitates collaboration with the Human Genome Project often cited as an example of the ability of open access to transform publications and data “into a much more powerful resource for research, education and innovation”. This international, collaborative research project was enabled by the use of open data, with all the sequence data made openly available for other researchers to reuse.


Back to top

“I can’t publish open access because there is no funding within my discipline to pay an Article Processing-Charge (APC).”

It’s likely that some funding is available, as more and more research bodies make funds available for APCs.

Over 100 institutions worldwide make funding available for APCs

The UK has more APC funds than any other country.
Source: BioMed Central Funder Open Access Policies and Mandates

Learn more about funding APCs, watch our Open Access Funding with BioMed Central video. 


Back to top

“I’ve checked and I really don’t have access to any funds to publish open access.”

You may still have options…

  • Ask for a waiver: All of our journals consider applications for APC waivers for authors who are unable to pay.
  • Look for OA membership schemes: Some publishers have OA membership schemes in which institutions pre-pay or pre-approve APC payments. Learn all about the Membership Program from BioMed Central, Chemistry Central and SpringerOpen.
  • Self-archive (“green” OA): Almost all journals will allow you to self-archive your accepted manuscript (post-peer review, pre-copyediting) to an institutional or subject repository, or your homepage, after a specified embargo period. Open Repository is the hosted repository platform from BioMed Central, allowing you to easily upload, manage, preserve and disseminate your organization's content.


Back to top

“Open access articles are not peer-reviewed.”


All of our journals operate a system of peer review for their research articles and for most other article types. The detailed peer-review policy of each journal is the responsibility of the journal Editor(s) concerned; for example, some journals operate open and others a closed peer review system.

Our Research Integrity Group is dedicated to maintaining best practice in peer review and editorial policy. They are responsible not only for defining our editorial policies but also providing support for Editors and reviewers.

We are a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) as well as endorsing the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) Policy Statement on Geopolitical Intrusion on Editorial Decisions


Back to top

“Open access articles are not copyrighted.”


Copyright on any open access article in a journal published by BioMed Central is retained by the author(s). Authors grant BioMed Central a license under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 to publish the article and identify itself as the original publisher. Authors also grant any third party the right to use the article freely as long as its integrity is maintained and its original authors, citation details and publisher are identified.


Back to top

“Publishing my article open access in a journal means I will comply with my funder’s OA policy.”

This is not always true. Sometimes you may be required to deposit the article elsewhere too, for example in an international repository (although in many cases the publisher will do this for you.)

We can help!

There are hundreds of open access policies worldwide, we have compiled an online Institutional open access policies webpage with many of them listed.

For RCUK funded researchers we’ve hosted more information and a video about how their policy applies to you.