Gold Open Access (OA) means that authors publish their papers in Open Access Journals which are free to be accessed and read without restrictions.
Sometimes publishers charge authors an Article Processing Charge (APC) to publish in their journal or on their website, while the journal remains free to the reader - this may be known as Hybrid OA.
Note: there is no requirement for you to publish in OA journals. See Green OA for an alternative route to achieve the benefits of Open Access.
Open Access Journals are peer-reviewed journals whose content can be accessed by readers free of charge via the Internet. Publication costs may be met by a grant to or sponsorship of the publisher, private funding or by charging authors a fee. While most open access journals only have an online existence, some also have a subscription-based print version.
The quality or prestige of any OA journal is based on the same criteria as a subscription-based journal e.g. peer review, editorial reputation, discipline relevance etc.
The range of Open Access journals reflects the historical development of the OA publishing movement, with societies and universities contributing a significant portion of titles.
Some journals, mainly online-only, impose a charge to authors to cover the costs of peer review and publication for all articles (eg BioMed Central and PLoS). This may be known as an Article Processing Charge (APC). Sometimes the journal will waive this fee if the author is not able to cover the cost.
Some commercial publishers allow authors to pay for Open Access. Once the fee has been paid the article is made freely available on the publishers website as well as being included in the print and online versions of the journal that is available to subscribers. Reputable publishers ensure the payment system and acceptance system are completely separate. Journals with ‘predatory’ author-pays practices should be avoided.
Some Open Access journals are published by institutions that subsidise the operation and do not require the author to pay
Some publishers and publications are not to be trusted. They may not have your interests at heart. Refer to some guidelines on journal selection here: http://utas.libguides.com/researchers/publish
Most journal publishers are taking account of the Open Access movement. The traditional publishers listed here have open access policies and/or options for authors. Most require payment to make articles open access immediately on publication (Gold Open Access Publishing).