Basic information about open access (OA)

What is the difference between “free” content and “open access” content?

Free content usually consists of editorial matter such as tables of contents, covers, advertisements, etc. This content is available to all within IEEE Xplore and it is not supported by article processing fees.

OA content is technical in nature, peer reviewed, supported by article processing fees, and available to all.

What do the terms “green” and “gold” open access refer to?

“Green” open access refers to practice of depositing a version of an article in a repository. Usually, that article version will be freely accessible to the public. If (for example) an author posts the accepted version of his or her NIH-funded article to PubMed Central, that article is said to be available through green open access.

Posting requirements and embargo periods vary by publisher. IEEE allows authors to post the accepted (not final) version of their article to their own website, their employer’s website, or a repository specified by their funding agency. IEEE does not have an embargo period.

Authors may obtain the accepted version of their article through the Author Gateway.

“Gold” open access refers to articles that are freely available in their final form. Most gold open access articles are supported by article processing charges (APCs), rather than through subscriptions. APCs may be paid by the author, the author’s institution, or a funding agency.

IEEE offers three gold open access options. Authors may publish an individual OA paper in a subscription journal (the “hybrid” option), publish in an OA topical journal, or publish in IEEE Access.

Why should authors publish open access?

Some funding agencies (such as the Wellcome Trust and Research Councils UK) require authors to publish open access. Many institutions also encourage their authors to publish OA, and some provide funds to help authors do so.

By publishing open access, authors allow their work to be accessed more widely and in a more timely way. OA licenses also offer more extensive reuse rights than traditional copyright agreements.

Do all IEEE journals accept OA articles?

Yes. All wholly-owned IEEE journals accept OA articles. Journals co-sponsored by IEEE and another organization accept OA content when both groups agree that the content is appropriate for the publication.

Do IEEE magazines accept OA articles?

At this time, only IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine accepts OA content.

How does an author select open access?

Authors publishing in fully OA journals must confirm that they accept the OA terms and charges at submission. Authors publishing in hybrid journals will be able to select OA after acceptance, as part of the copyright transfer process.


What fees are charged for OA publication?

As of 1 January 2017, the article processing charge for hybrid journals is US $1,950. Some journals charge additional fees (e.g. overlength and color page charges). See individual journal author instructions for specific details.

For fully open topical journals, the article processing charge is US $1,350. Some journals charge additional fees (e.g. overlength and color page charges). See individual journal author instructions for specific details.

For IEEE Access, the article processing fee is US $1,750.

Does IEEE provide a discount on OA article processing charges to IEEE members?

Yes. IEEE will apply a discount to current IEEE members. IEEE members will receive a 5% discount, and members of IEEE societies will receive a 15% discount. Discounts cannot be combined or applied to any other fees such as over-length article or color page charges.

If an author cannot afford the OA fee, will IEEE allow OA fee waivers?

Yes, IEEE will grant waivers for special circumstances. Contact trans@ieee.org to request a waiver. If you are requesting a waiver prior to article submission or acceptance, please contact the journal editor-in-chief for guidance.

What is the IEEE Refund Policy for APCs?

An author’s open access article processing charges (APCs) may be refunded when alternative funding is provided (e.g. by the Wellcome Trust or the author’s institution).

Copyright & OA Licenses

What OA license types are available to authors?

IEEE offers two open access options for our authors–the Open Access Publishing Agreement (OAPA, the default license) and the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY).

What is the OAPA license?

The Open Access Publishing Agreement (OAPA) is specific to IEEE, and is the recommended option for most authors. As with any OA license, articles published under OAPA will be freely accessible to all readers. However, with OAPA, copyright is transferred to IEEE.

Authors publishing under OAPA are allowed to post the final, published versions of their articles to their personal websites, institutional repositories, or any repository required by their funding agencies. Authors who submit their articles under the traditional IEEE Copyright Form (i.e., articles that are not intended to be published open access) may post only the accepted version.

OAPA allows users to copy the article, translate it, or use it for text or data mining as long as the purpose is non-commercial.

What is the CC BY license?

Creative Commons licenses such as CC BY are used by many academic publishers. The CC BY license grants the most liberal reuse rights of all commonly used OA licenses. It allows users to distribute, reuse, modify, and build upon a work as long as proper attribution to the original article is provided. Works published with a CC BY license may be used for commercial purposes.

Some funding agencies, most notably the RCUK and Wellcome Trust in the UK, require grant recipients to publish with a CC BY license.

What are the main differences between the OAPA and CC BY licenses?

There are two key differences between the OAPA and CC BY licenses. The first is the transfer of copyright. Under OAPA, copyright is transferred to IEEE, while under the CC BY license, copyright remains with the author. Transferring the copyright to IEEE enables IEEE to protect a work from copyright infringement and plagiarism. This is a benefit to authors, as many do not have the time or resources to monitor the appropriate reuse of their work.

The second difference concerns distribution rights. The CC BY license grants more liberal reuse rights. Articles published under a CC BY license may be reposted or reused freely without the author’s permission, even for commercial purposes, as long as proper attribution is given. OAPA limits rights for reposting and reuse, and commercial reuse is not permitted.

Article processing charges (APCs) and other fees are the same for both options.

At what point does an author select an OA license?

After an article has been accepted, the corresponding author will be prompted to go through the IEEE electronic copyright transfer system. If an author is publishing OA, he or she will be asked to choose between the OAPA and CC BY licenses. Authors must also indicate if they are government employees in the US, UK, or EU. In some instances, custom licenses are needed for government employees.

OAPA is the default license, and is recommended for most authors. Some authors, most notably those funded by the RCUK or Wellcome Trust, may need to select CC BY. Authors should check their funding agency requirements to see if a particular license type must be used.

Can an author change the license type?

Authors who accidentally select the wrong license type, or who need to change their license type because of funding requirements should contact the IEEE Intellectual Property Rights Office at copyrights@ieee.org.

Who should authors contact if they have more questions about IEEE’s OA policies and procedures?

Authors with questions or concerns about IEEE copyright policies should contact the Intellectual Property Rights Office at +1-732-562-3966 or copyrights@ieee.org.