Different formats of Open Access Journals

Open access (OA) journals are scholarly journals that are freely available to readers online, without subscription barriers. The primary aim of OA journals is to increase the accessibility and dissemination of research findings. There are several formats and models for OA journals, each with distinct characteristics and funding mechanisms. Here's an overview of the different formats of open access journals:

1. Gold Open Access

In the Gold OA model, all articles in a journal are freely accessible immediately upon publication. There are no subscription fees, and the costs of publication are typically covered through Article Processing Charges (APCs) paid by the authors, their institutions, or research funders.

  • Characteristics:

    • Immediate access to the final published version.
    • Usually involves APCs.
    • Published under a Creative Commons license.
  • Examples:

    • PLOS ONE
    • BioMed Central journals

2. Green Open Access

Green OA, also known as self-archiving, allows authors to deposit a version of their manuscript (usually the preprint or the final peer-reviewed manuscript) in a repository (institutional or subject-specific) where it becomes freely accessible.

  • Characteristics:

    • The version made available may not be the final published version.
    • There may be an embargo period before the manuscript can be made openly accessible.
    • No direct cost to authors for self-archiving.
  • Examples:

    • arXiv (for physics, mathematics, and computer science)
    • PubMed Central (for biomedical and life sciences)

3. Hybrid Open Access

Hybrid OA journals offer authors the option to make their individual articles open access upon payment of an APC, while the rest of the journal content remains behind a subscription paywall.

  • Characteristics:

    • Provides a choice between subscription access and open access.
    • APCs apply only if authors choose the OA option.
    • Criticized for leading to "double-dipping" where publishers earn from both APCs and subscriptions.
  • Examples:

    • Springer’s Open Choice
    • Wiley OnlineOpen

4. Diamond/Platinum Open Access

Diamond (or Platinum) OA journals do not charge APCs or subscription fees. They are often funded by academic institutions, societies, or through government grants and subsidies.

  • Characteristics:

    • Free to read and free to publish.
    • Often supported by academic or non-profit organizations.
    • Promotes equitable access to publishing opportunities.
  • Examples:

    • SciPost (a platform for scientific publications)
    • The Open Library of Humanities

5. Bronze Open Access

Bronze OA refers to articles that are freely accessible on the publisher’s website but without a clearly stated open access license. This can mean that the free access might be temporary or subject to change.

  • Characteristics:

    • Free to read, but not necessarily free to reuse.
    • Lack of a clear license can limit how the content can be used and shared.
    • Often part of promotional access or temporary free access periods.
  • Examples:

    • Articles temporarily made free during special issues or promotional periods.

6. Delayed Open Access

In this model, articles become openly accessible after an embargo period, which typically ranges from several months to a year or more after publication.

  • Characteristics:

    • Articles are behind a paywall initially.
    • Free access is provided after the embargo period ends.
    • Can be a compromise between subscription models and open access.
  • Examples:

    • Journals that provide free access to back issues after a certain period.

7. Licensing and Creative Commons

OA journals often use Creative Commons licenses to define how articles can be used, shared, and reused. The most common licenses include:

  • CC BY (Attribution): Allows others to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the work, even commercially, as long as they credit the original creation.
  • CC BY-SA (ShareAlike): Similar to CC BY but requires that derivative works be licensed under identical terms.
  • CC BY-NC (Non-Commercial): Allows others to use the work non-commercially, with attribution.
  • CC BY-ND (No Derivatives): Allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the author.


Open access journals come in various formats, each designed to address the diverse needs and constraints of authors, institutions, and funders. While the Gold and Green models are the most prevalent, hybrid, diamond, bronze, and delayed OA models also play significant roles in the landscape of scholarly publishing. Understanding these formats helps researchers make informed decisions about where and how to publish their work, ensuring maximum accessibility and impact.