Publishing in Open Access journals is one way of making your research Open Access. Most OA journals undergo a peer or editorial review process equivalent to the process used for subscription journals. Many are free to the author, relying on ad revenue and sponsorship, while others may charge author fees to offset the costs of production. Many granting agencies allow author publishing fees to be included in grant proposals and some universities are providing publishing funds.* Some OA journals are hybrids, allowing the author to choose an Open Access option, though other articles in the same publication may be subscription only. In most disciplines authors see higher citation rates for Open Access articles than non-Open Access articles,** and impact factors for OA and non-OA publications are about the same.***
** Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin, 28 (4). pp. 39-47 (http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/11688/)
***Thomson ISI. (2004) The Impact of Open Access Journals: A Citation Study of Thomson ISI. (http://scientific.thomson.com/media/presentrep/acropdf/impact-oa-journals.pdf)
Scholarly publishing fraud is nothing new, but the rise of online publishing has made it easier to perpetrate and more difficult to identify. "Predatory" journals masquerade as legitimate scholarly publications, but are either scams attempting to collect fees from unsuspecting scholars or vanity presses that publish low-quality work with minimal review. Many promise quick publishing turn-around times and may erroneously list well-known scholars on their editorial boards.
There are many high-quality, peer-reviewed Open Access journals worthy of your consideration as an author or reviewer, but it's important to recognize the potential for fraud. Publishing scams often solicit submissions from authors or offer reviewer positions directly by email; any emails from unknown publishers or journal editors should be treated with caution. Being indexed in a major database is no longer a reliable indicator of a journal's quality.
Spend a few minutes to assess the reputation of a journal or publisher before submitting your research. Journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals have been reviewed for compliance with publishing best practices and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association sets publishing standards for it members. The Think. Check. Submit. campaign provides a checklist authors can use to assess the credentials of a journal or publisher. Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, maintains a blog and a list of journals and publishers known to meet at least some of the criteria for "predatory" status. You may also contact a UNH librarian if you have any questions about the reputation of a publisher or the quality of a journal.