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Dilemma: Open Access or Not?

As I came to the United States about three years ago, I rarely heard about open-access journals in my major: Construction Engineering and Management. I first exposed to that when my papers are accepted for ASCE journals (American Society of Civil Engineering), within the acceptance email, there was a note that I can pay the fee to make this paper open access and available to everyone. Unfortunately, I could not afford and my advisors also did not like the open-access because of the common belief that by making our work open access, we would risk our reputation and of course, our future. I frequently heard from my advisors and other peers that I need to have at least three journal paper published in ASCE journals – the most prestigious journals in my major-  if I want to get an academic job (especially in land-grant university). All of these scared me and encouraged me to avoid open access journal, however, I am the one who suffered from the non-open access journals. I remembered when I was doing my Master thesis in Iran three years ago and I only had access to the abstract of papers from ASCE journals since my university could not afford to buy the license. I remembered that I should go to other universities to download these papers. I do not forget the difficulties I faced; perhaps I have new concerns about my future: What will happen if I publish in open access journals? Can I get my dreamed job?

I started to search for open access journals in Directory of Open Access Journals. I found some but I preferred to focus on one of them that I heard its name before and there are some faculty members and well-known researchers that I recognized in the Editorial Board. When I compared the board with ASCE editorial board, I recognized similar faculties in both.  The Buildings journal is from MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute) open-access publisher with headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. “Buildings is an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal that publishes original articles, critical reviews, research notes, and short communications on building science, building engineering and architecture design.” This journal covers various topics including, architecture, architectural/building engineering, design, building construction, construction management, building materials, energy and buildings, building operations, building physics, building structures, building mechanical systems, building lighting systems, green buildings, building/facility management, the philosophy, art and science of architecture designing, the linkages and interactions between the built environment and ecology, natural resources, climate, local communities, public policy, and economic development. It is interesting to me that there is no restriction on the length of the papers and the authors can provide as much detail as they want. In other journals that are not open access, always there is a serious limitation on the pages which I do not like at all.

This journal makes the papers immediately available worldwide. Thus, everyone has free (without price barriers) and unlimited access to full-text of all papers. Everyone can re-use the materials by providing proper citation of the original paper.  Articles published in this journal will be Open-Access articles distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). This open-access journal provides some advantages for authors, such as high availability and visibility of papers, higher citation impact, lower publishing costs, and faster publication.

Although this is an open access journal, the editors enforce a rigorous blind peer-review process with strict ethical policies in order to ensure the high quality of manuscripts to the field of scholarly publication. To avoid any research misconduct and ethical issues, this journal uses different software to check all submissions. I looked over some of the papers and I found their quality acceptable. This encourages me to learn more about open access movement.

I want to end this blog with a quote from Barbara Fister:

“ […] people should have access to ideas even if they aren’t affiliated with a well-resourced institution, if you think your ideas matter, if you think some of the people who could benefit from your work aren’t among the academic one percent, do some digging before you decide where to publish. Your research matters. Access to knowledge matters.”


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