Pros and cons

"Nowadays, it is widely recognised that making research results more accessible contributes to better and more efficient science, and to innovation in the public and private sectors."

 European Commission, Horizon2020


The greatest benefit of open access is that it enables the results of scholarly research to be disseminated more rapidly and widely:

  1. More people can read the results of scholarly research, including those who would otherwise not be able to access that information because they cannot afford the subscription to an expensive journal, for example.

  2. New ideas can be dispersed more rapidly and widely, which in turn triggers new research studies; it serves as an impetus for knowledge.

  3. Scientific research shows that publishing in open access, because of the worldwide visibility without barriers, demonstrably leads to more citations and more impact.

  4. Businesses also have broad access to the most recent scientific ideas, which they can then build upon. Open access contributes to the knowledge economy and provides an economic boost.

  5. Since open access also implies wider reuse, recent knowledge can be put to immediate use in teaching as "open educational resource".

Studies examining the economic benefits of open access for a.o. the United Kingdom and  the Netherlands have shown that there will be cost savings. In the transitional phase, open access will cost more, but this is only temporary.


Researchers experience a number of disadvantages, most of which relate to the transition to the open access publication model. It is only in the longer term that the extra effort required brings concrete benefits to researchers themselves. This affects the priority they attach to switching to this new publication model.

The disadvantages they experience:

  1. In science, medicine, and economics especially, researchers are rated by their ability to publish in journals with a high impact factor. However, it takes some time before new journals, both traditional and open access, can acquire an impact factor. Only then are they of interest to researchers. Moreover, the impact factor has been under discussion in recent years and the VSNU wants to find a different way to reward and value scientists.

  2. The number of high-quality, fully open access journals varies enormously across the different disciplines. Some disciplines have very few or not enough.

  3. Publishing in open access journals sometimes involves additional administration, whereas delivering articles to traditional journals can usually be done easily online.

  4. In this transition period most research institutes have not yet made provisions for the payment of Author Processing Charges (APCs). This therefore entails additional, often substantial, costs for researchers. However, many universities nowadays have funds for open access to publish and it is good to inquire about this.

  5. Researchers can be spammed by open access publishers of often dubious quality ("predatory journals"), which colours their perception of the open access publication model. It takes some effort to sort the wheat from the chaff. Improvements are made to the databases which show the quality of open access publishers more transparently. Prior to publication you may check whether or not your journal has been scored by one of these databases: QOAM,  DOAJ also grades the quality of journals. By means of this application form open access journals may obtain the DOAJ seal.

  6. Supplying publication data and the full text of publications to repositories means extra work for researchers.

  7. It is often not clear whether the texts of publications in repositories can in fact be published in open access. There are sometimes copyright barriers. Researchers may wonder whether the additional effort will produce the desired result.

Misconceptions on open access

Open access publishing doesn’t mean that:

-          you, as the author, will give away copyright;

-          your publication will be published without peer review;

-          your publication will not be indexed in scholarly databases;

-          your publication will not have an impact factor.

Open access is of enormous importance for a range of target groups: researchers, lecturers, students, administrators and publishers. For the specific benefits of open access for these groups, see the section Your Role on this website.

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Dutch National website providing information for academics about the advantages of open access to publicly financed research

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