For Authors

Free Journal Vs. Open Access; A Guide for Authors & Publishers

Free vs Open Access Journal

Free journal and Open Access are frequently used terms by the publishers. These terms are very confusing for the young authors, in fact, many publishers intentionally using the term ‘Free Journal’ (Instead of Open Access) in a confusing way to trap new researchers.

Term “Free Journal” should be used specifically for those journals only which are free for article publication and does not charge any kind of fee (or article processing charge, APC) from author to publish their research paper. On the other hand, the term “Open Access” should be used for those journals who are offering everyone (audience) to read and download articles freely without charging any kind of fee (neither access fee nor subscription fee).

If using a combination of both terms as, “Free Open Access Journal” or its variant, it should mean that the journal is publishing the article without charging any fee from the author and offering their readers to read/download articles freely without any type of fee.

Why term ‘Free Journal’ is confusing for ‘Open Access’?

Open Access is a standard term which simply means that the journal articles under open access will be available free to read, download and reuse as per applicable license terms of the journal. This term has further been classified into, Gold, Green and Hybrid open access based on the embargo time to make the article freely available and archiving policy for the authors. Since the term “open access” is self-explanatory that article will be available freely, I think there is no need to use terms “Free Journal” for those journals whose only article available freely (publication still requires a fee/APC) based on open access model. In fact, using term ‘Free journal’ for those whose only published articles are available freely confuses authors with the free publication (where does not need to pay for publishing).

Consequences of not using terms as standard

Many publishers advertise their journals under term Free Journal and by free journal they mean open access journal which confuses and trap many authors. Many blog post/ social comments can be seen where the author complains about the journal/publisher who supposed to be free but after manuscript acceptance author suddenly (surprisingly) received an invoice to pay. I think those things happen due to publisher highlighted those journals as a Free Journal (Intentionally) in a confusing way instead of saying Open Access and the author might not read full terms and condition for publishing and got trapped.

Suggestion for Publishers

Journal/publisher should use the proper term “Free Journal” for free publication and “Open Access” for free article availability to avoid confusion and trapping young authors. Journal Publisher should use the terms “Free Open access journal” or its other variant only when they are offering both, free publishing as well as free availability.

Suggestion for Authors

Potential author(s) should read publisher’s terms carefully for using term ‘Free Journal’ whether they mean the free publication of the articles (where author does not need to pay any kind of APC/payment for publication) or free availability (where reader does not need to pay, also referred as open access) of published articles.


This post is a curated form of an earlier post Free Journals with Open Access Publication

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