Open Access Journal: Nucleic Acid Research

About the Journal

Nucleic Acids Research (NAR) is an open-access peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Oxford University Press. It publishes the results of leading edge research into physical, chemical, biochemical and biological aspects of nucleic acids and proteins involved in nucleic acid metabolism and/or interactions. It enables the rapid publication of papers under the following categories: Chemistry and synthetic biology; Computational biology; Gene regulation, chromatin and epigenetics; Genome integrity, repair and replication; Genomics; Molecular biology; Nucleic acid enzymes; RNA and Structural biology. The journal publishes two yearly special issues, one dedicated to biological databases, published in January since 1993, and the other on biological web servers, published in July since 2003.  According to the Journal Citation Reports, the journal’s 2016 impact factor is 10.162.

NAR’s Open Access Initiative

The advent of online publication has greatly improved access to scientific content on a global scale. This has led to calls from the academic community for research to be made freely available online immediately upon publication, without the barrier of paid subscription to access. In response to these calls, and following consultation with journal contributors, Oxford University Press and the Editors of Nucleic Acids Research (NAR) launched an Open Access initiative for NAR in 2005. This means that it is no longer necessary to hold a subscription in order to read current NAR content online.

There are substantial costs associated with publishing a high quality journal such as NAR, for example in the administration of the editorial process, production of the published version, and development of online functionality. Under a subscription-based model, these costs are primarily covered by charging libraries and individuals for access to the journal’s content. Under NAR’s Open Access model, we aim to cover the costs of publication primarily through a combination of author charges and institutional payments.

The current open access charges are:

  • Author charge (per article) Member institution – £746 / $1455 / €1119 (50% discount)
  • Non-member institution – £1491 / $2909 / €2337.

Under OUP’s existing Developing Countries Initiative, authors based in Free Access countries will have the open access charged waived, and authors based in Reduced Access countries will be charged 50% of the regular open access fee.

The following figure shows the number of NAR submissions received 2002–7. One can see a non-growing trend after 2005 when NAR became fully open accessed. Undoubtedly, the high price of publishing in this journal can be counted as a leading factor.

On the other hand,  according to the table below, NAR has been receiving higher impact factor and more competitive ranking among peer journals since 2005.  Following figure illustrates that while there has been a drop in the growth rate of NAR impact factor, joining open access movement has not stopped NAR to succeed in general.


  2. Manktelow, Emily. “Oxford journals’ adventures in open access.” Learned Publishing 21.3 (2008): 200-208.

4 Replies to “Open Access Journal: Nucleic Acid Research”

  1. Hi! The figures you included were really helpful. I think it is interesting how submissions have dropped, but impact has increased. I also thought it was interesting that submissions dropped after the journal became open access. I would be interested in knowing the amount they charged per publication before they became open access, to see how much/if it was increased!

    1. Hi there! Apparently by joining the Open Access movement the papers have been being read by more audiences, and that was the main reason to have the growing impact factor while the number of submissions are declining. I think it was free to publish in this journal before 2005.

  2. I definitely agree that the increased price to host an open access journal might deter some people from publishing their work in a certain journal. However, I am not completely sold on the idea that open access increased the journal’s impact factor. I say this by taking a look at the graph and noticing the sharp increase in the impact factor from 2000 till 2005 followed by a way less steep increase after 2005, which is the date the open access initiative was launched.

    1. Thanks for your careful attention. I agree with your second observation, and have reflected it in my blog: “Following figure illustrates that while there has been a drop in the growth rate of NAR impact factor, joining open access movement has not stopped NAR to succeed in general.” In other words, while the growth rate has declined after 2005, it is still positive.

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