General considerations

Targeting a suitable journal for your research increases the probability your paper is read by the right audience in your field, which helps advance your own profile and knowledge in your field by reaching a demographic that is more likely to cite and disseminate your research. However, irrespective of the soundness and novelty of your research, reaching your target audience depends largely on readership accessibility options from the journal. Selecting the appropriate level of accessibility for your paper may seem straightforward, but is generally constrained by whether the journal or publisher offers these options and journal fees.

Firstly, many journals do not always provide open access options. Journals are generally categorised as either paid subscription or open access regarding their readership accessibility. Paid subscription is a membership service to the journal usually covered by the university or research institution that allows readers to access the journal’s content via institutional login access. Journals will usually only publish material from paid subscribers. Therefore, as an author, you will need paid subscription via your institution, but this largely depends on the type and outreach of the journal. For your audience, your paper is primarily read within the academic community with paid access to journal content. For example. Wiley, a major publishing company, oversees access to thousands of academic journals. Universities and research institutes, as well as individuals, become paid subscribers to these journals, allowing access to journal content.

Conversely, open access papers are disseminated more widely due to no subscription restrictions for readers. This means papers are publicly available. However, allowing open access does not come without fees. Journals, as publishers, need to pay publishing, administration, and intellectual property and copyright overheads to open their papers freely to the public. The level of accessibility for your paper depends on you as an author or your institution paying the open access fee, e.g. OnlineOpen by Wiley Online Library. This fee, covered by either the individual author/s or the institution, covers the publishing overheads to allow the journal paper to be freely available to the public without the need for a subscription to the journal. Nowadays, most paid subscription journals also offer open access options for authors should they choose to make their paper publicly available.

Practical example for Life Sciences

Within the life sciences, more and more journals are becoming open access. Open access journals are increasingly seen as the modern journal, as they provide publicly available content, overcome financial barriers for readers that would normally require a financial commitment to access content, and reach a larger readership due to improved accessibility. The following link from Elsevier, a major publishing company of academic research papers, outlines their Open Access journals: https://www.elsevier.com/about/open-science/open-access/open-access-journals.

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