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Open Access Position Statement

SAGE has been actively engaged with the open access (OA) debate from very early on. It is core to our culture and philosophy to be open to new, innovative developments in every sector we work in. This enables us to better develop appropriate strategies that both protect our existing core business and capitalize on new market developments.

Open access is fundamentally driven by the technological advances we have seen over the last two decades and provides many opportunities. We believe that the best way to assess what impact it will have is to engage and experiment.

Please refer to the open access FAQs for definitions of ‘Gold’ open access Publishing and ‘Green’ open access Archiving


Open access is as much about enabling re-use as it is about making material freely available to the reader. Open access articles should be made available using some form of Creative Commons (CC) License. The licensing landscape is complex: some believe that only material released under a CC BY or CC(0) is true open access as it places the minimum of restrictions on re-use. SAGE believes that it should not enforce one particular CC license on our authors; rather we should enable author choice. Please view our open access license options.

The SAGE Gold Open Access Story

SAGE has been experimenting with Gold open access for many years. Key early initiatives were:

  • 2007 - SAGE-Hindawi

SAGE entered into a partnership with Hindawi Publishing Corporation in 2007. This combined Hindawi’s experience of open access and its custom build OA workflow with SAGE’s editorial expertise. Through this we gained some early hands on experience of launching and managing pure OA journals. The partnership was dissolved in 2010.

  • 2008 - SOAP Project and OASPA

SAGE was one of only two publishing partners to engage in the EC funded FP7 framework project the Study of Open Access Publishing. This study analyzed the 2008 OA market and questioned over a million academics worldwide to assess their attitude towards OA. With over 35,000 responses this exercise provided valuable detail on the expectations and attitude of the academic market.

SAGE was a founding board member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association in 2008. David Ross, our Global Head of Open Access, was integral in drafting the OA publishing trade association’s constitution and best practice guidelines.

  • 2010 - SAGE Open

In late 2010 SAGE launched the first broad spectrum OA journal aimed specifically at the Social and Behavioral Sciences, SAGE Open. While OA publishing had by then become established in the Biomedical and Life Sciences it had yet to gain any real traction in HSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) mainly because of different funding structures. OA in biomedicine has partly been driven by the funding bodies themselves and research grants are typically orders of magnitude bigger than in HSS. However, SAGE believes that there was a demand and so created SAGE Open to provide service to our authors and enable experimentation. SAGE Open published its 1000th paper in early 2015 providing clear proof of concept that there is a real appetite amongst the HSS community for OA Publishing.

  • 2015 and Beyond

Our success with SAGE Open and our experience with some acquisition gave us the confidence to pursue a more aggressive strategy. By the end of 2014 we were publishing 40 OA titles and we will continue to launch more over the coming years to ensure we continue to provide a comprehensive service to all our authors.

SAGE Policies

Maintaining Quality
SAGE has a reputation for quality publishing in every discipline and market it operates in and under no circumstances will it compromise this. It is acknowledged that there are some concerns regarding the perceived conflict of interest of author-pays publishing but we believe that there is no reason that OA journals cannot be held to the same standards as any other traditional subscription journal. We ensure all the journals we publish meet our own exacting standards and that there are enough checks and balances in place to negate these. Peer review should be held to the same high standards in all journals, regardless of the business model they operate under.

Relationship to Existing Business
We believe that OA journals will complement our existing traditional business, augmenting it by providing an alternative route to publication to those authors that are interested in an open access option. Published global research output is growing at approximately 3% per annum on approximately two million articles a year. Author-pays open access publishing provides an outlet for this additional material.

Double Dipping/Subscription Offsetting
There are obviously consequences for subscriber expectations if a large amount of material in a journal is made available free of charge. Please see SAGE’s statement regarding this issue.

SAGE Choice

Another version of paid-for Gold open access is Hybrid Gold open access. Under this model the author of a paper published in a subscription journal can elect to pay a fee to enable the article to be made available openly. This option has been driven mainly by funding agencies in the biomedical/life sciences (most notably the Wellcome Trust) who have explicitly made funds available for this. At SAGE this mode of publication is called SAGE Choice.

Green Open Access Archiving at SAGE

SAGE is only one of two major publishers that allow authors to post the accepted version of their article with no embargo. Click here for more information about the details of green open access archiving allowed by SAGE.