Publishing lifecycle in academic journals

The publishing lifecycle consists of a few different stages.  Once you have drafted your manuscript for submission to the journal (or other publication venue), it undergoes a process of peer-review.  Then, the peer-review process determines if your article is accepted for publication or rejected by the journal editors.

If your article is provisionally accepted for publication, then the peer-review process may provide you with amendments to make to the manuscript before your article receives firm acceptance.  Once it has received firm acceptance, the publisher puts your article through their own copyediting process before publication.

In traditional academic publishing, there is typically a process of copyright transfer of your work to the publisher.  Because the publisher retains copyright to their final version of record, they usually disallow Green OA redistribution of this version.  However, they do tend to allow Green OA redistribution of the post-print version.

The academic publishing sector offers a few different publishing options.  The standard option is to publish your work in a journal cost-free, then the publisher restricts access to published content and charges a fee for access.  The fee is normally paid for via subscriptions from University Libraries, so that staff and students can access journal content.

Another option is to publish your work in a journal which incurs an up-front payment of the publisher's APC (Article Processing Charge).  This makes your work Gold OA on the publisher's website, and returns copyright to the author via a Creative Commons licence.  

Article versions

Please see the definitions below of the most common article versions created through the publishing lifecycle:

  • The author's pre-print version: The version of the article as it has been submitted to the journal for publication, before any peer-review amendments have been made to the manuscript.
  • The author's post-print version: The version of the article as it has been accepted for publication by the journal, after any peer-review amendments have been made to the manuscript.
  • The publisher's proofs: Any version that the publisher creates during their copyediting process after acceptance, ranging from a mildly edited post-print to a template of the version of record.
  • The publisher's version of record: The version as published, both early online on the journal website before being ascribed to a volume and issue, and once it belongs in its final location in print.

Journal types

Please see the definitions below of the most common types of journals in the academic publishing sector:

  • Hybrid OA Journal: A subscription journal that typically retains copyright, offers APC payment as an option, and has both Green OA and Gold OA as options for authors.
  • Gold OA Journal: A fully OA journal that typically requires payment of an APC in order to publish, and makes the version of record OA immediately with an open licence.
  • Transformative Journal: A hybrid OA journal that is part of a Transformative Agreement, in the UK sector provided via Jisc, to transition into a fully Gold OA journal.
  • OA Publishing Platform: A Gold OA platform, typically created by research funders, in which research outputs that acknowledge such funding can be published cost-free.

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