Not One but many Models of Open-Access Publishing

Not One but Many Models of Open-Access Publishing

David M. Condon,1 Jack Arnal,2 Grace Binion,3 Benjamin Brown,4 Katherine S. Corker5

1 University of Oregon, 2 McDaniel College, 3 Emory University School of Medicine, 4 Georgia Gwinnett College, 5 Grand Valley State University


As members of the Scientific Advisory Board for PsyArXiv, we are responding to the invitation for feedback in the recent article by APS President Shinobu Kitayama entitled “The Open-Access Model of Journal Publishing.” The piece provides an insightful introduction to Open Access (OA) from APS leadership, and we were particularly enthusiastic about the news that Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science (AMPPS) will become a fully OA journal in 2021. Our response adds to Dr. Kitayama’s thoughts by addressing topics that warrant further explanation. These topics include the need to situate outlets like PsyArXiv in discussions about Open Access, as well as the broader need to distinguish between various types of OA publication models.


What is PsyArXiv?

PsyArXiv is an open access preprint repository for psychological research. Established in 2016, PsyArXiv serves the psychological science community, just as bioRxiv and arXiv serve the disciplines of biology, physics, mathematics, computer science, and related fields. Despite its short history, PsyArXiv has been widely embraced among psychological researchers. The service is already receiving an average of nearly 20 new manuscript submissions per day, download rates of more than 5,000 per day, and a 147% increase in pageviews from 2019 to 2020 (year-to-date). Works deposited in PsyArXiv enjoy high discoverability regardless of the ultimate journal outlet, although it is important to note that a substantial proportion of these works have not (yet) undergone peer review. Each preprint is given a unique digital object identifier (DOI), indexed by Google Scholar, and briefly evaluated for consistency with PsyArXiv‘s terms of use by a volunteer member of our moderation team. The costs of providing these services have historically been supported by the Center for Open Science and, more recently, by the university library systems of our member institutions. We think our rapidly growing usage rates indicate clear demand for access to psychology research findings among consumers who lack institutional access, including members of the general public.


How does PsyArXiv relate to the Open Access models Kitayama mentions?

The Open Access movement has proliferated in numerous directions over the last two decades, and a color-naming system has evolved in an attempt to simplify this diversity. PsyArXiv is classified in this system as “green” OA because it is a repository for authors who seek to freely share their scholarly output with both consumers (readers) and producers of research (Samberg et al., 2018). The niches that Kitayama has described – serving “cutting-edge” and “nontraditional” research projects – are both examples of “gold” OA. These outlets are peer-reviewed journals that publish open articles and make use of article publishing charges (APCs). This approach differs substantially from traditional publishing models where peer-reviewed articles are published without expense for the authors, but at substantial expense to libraries; further, articles are locked away behind a “paywall.” Many readers of the APS Observer are likely familiar with hybrid approaches as well (sometimes called “paid open access”). This model gives authorship teams the choice, after peer-review, to pay APCs to add open access publishing to their accepted paper, or they can choose to publish without expense by effectively signing away the licensing rights to their article. Many additional variations exist, each with its own color-name (see Barnes, 2020 and Samberg et al., 2018).

Though the traditional subscription-based publishing model is clearly under pressure, there is little consensus about the best long-term fix. Many of the largest consumers of research (i.e., university libraries) have recently sought to negotiate “transformative agreements” that seek to resolve the unsustainable financial burdens of bundled subscription agreements – the so-called “Big Deals” between libraries and publishers. The downstream consequences of this unresolved turmoil has caused confusion for scientists who seek to publish their findings in prestigious and widely-accessible outlets on a tight budget. Kitayama’s summary highlights the tension among these goals, but only within the context of gold OA models. In short, more prestigious outlets tend to be more expensive (though the correlation is not perfect), and there are good reasons to be concerned about this association.


Can PsyArXiv help to address these concerns?

We think it does. At the most fundamental level, PsyArXiv complements all forms of publishing by equitably providing psychological researchers with a free, simple, and immediate outlet that can be accessed by anyone with reliable internet service. This gives early access to timely research findings, provides an alternative access option for works that are not published openly, increases discoverability (Norris et al., 2008; Lewis, 2018), and reduces the file-drawer problem (Franco et al., 2014). Beyond this, the PsyArXiv infrastructure allows for further innovation in psychology publishing that can build on the benefits of open access. These might include overlay journals, which have gained considerable attention in other scientific disciplines recently and provide peer-review and/or editorial curation of content posted on arXiv (for examples, see Discrete Analysis and The Open Journal of Astrophysics). Models like these offer the potential for niche journals to flourish in a manner that would not be viable within the traditional publishing ecosystem. In short, we hope that researchers, including submitters to APS journals, will take advantage of APS’ generous article posting policies and make copies of their pre- and post-publication work available for the community at PsyArXiv, thereby helping the community capitalize on these many benefits.



Barnes, L. (2020, August 11). Green, Gold, Diamond, Black – what does it all mean?

Franco, A., Malhotra, N., & Simonovits, G. (2014). Publication bias in the social sciences: Unlocking the file drawer. Science, 345(6203), 1502-1505.

Kitayama, S. (2020). The open-access model of journal publishing. APS Observer, 33(7).

Lewis, C. L. (2018). The open access citation advantage: Does it exist and what does it mean for libraries? Information Technology and Libraries, 37(3), 50-65.

Norris, M., Oppenheim, C., & Rowland, F. (2008). The citation advantage of open‐access articles. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 59(12), 1963-1972.

Samberg, R., Wolfe, M., Scott, K., Taylor, A., Barclay, D., Hruska, M., Chan, J., & Anderson, I., and the University of California Libraries (2018, February 27). Pathways to Open Access.


PAX Member Institutions

The PsyArXiv Scientific Advisory Board would like to express deepest gratitude to all of our member institutions. PsyArXiv was founded on the generous support of the Center for Open Science and has since transitioned to an institutional membership model to sustain high-quality service to the discipline of psychology and its allied fields. Our member institutions provide invaluable financial and strategic support. They are each integral in helping us maintain the quality of our service, and without them, PsyArXiv would not be running today. Thank you to each of the following institutions:


APA Names PsyArXiv as Preferred Preprint Service

Contributed by Grace Binion, David Condon, Anita Eerland, Alex Holcombe, Hannah Moshontz, & Sean Rife

On August 1st 2017, PsyArXiv was named the preferred preprint service for the APA. In their press release, the APA highlights the benefits afforded by our service, including open access and increased discoverability. We will also be working to develop integrated submission portals that will allow submission from PsyArXiv to APA journals and vice versa. Once in place, this will allow users to easily submit the latest version of their preprint (and associated supplemental material) from PsyArXiv to journals and to solicit feedback on manuscripts submitted for review.

This initiative is a substantial step towards openness and transparency by one of the most prominent organizations in psychological research, and we hope to facilitate similar steps by other publishers. The Center for Open Science is continuing to develop the functionality underlying PsyArXiv to facilitate usage by journals (regardless of the publisher) as well as individual scholars. The central mission of PsyArXiv is to provide preprint services to promote the broad use of this vital tool for open access to psychological research. To accomplish this, we are eager to work with a wide array of publishers to ease the workflow of individuals already using preprints and to enhance visibility of preprints to promote adoption for those who are not.

We are excited that the APA has chosen to name us their preferred preprint service and look forward to many more similar opportunities.