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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 publishing Gold open access journals for many years now. Key initiatives have been:

  • 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 Vice President of Open Research, 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 believed that there was a demand and so created SAGE Open to provide service to our authors and enable experimentation. SAGE Open has now published over 2000 papers providing clear proof of concept that there is a real appetite amongst the HSS community for OA Publishing.

  • 2012 - SAGE Open Medicine and SAGE Open Medical Case Reports

Building on the early promise of SAGE Open, we launched SAGE Open Medicine and SAGE Open Medical Case Reports and added further journals as part of the acquisition of titles from other publishers, including from the Royal Society of Medicine Press.

  • 2015 – Acquisition of Advances in Mechanical Engineering 

In acquiring the journal Advances in Mechanical Engineering, SAGE expanded its OA publishing into a new discipline and, in subsequent years, we have added further engineering titles to our portfolio.

  • 2016 – Acquisition of Libertas Academica list

Our OA journal programme took a significant leap forward in size when we acquired the entire journal list of the publisher Libertas Academica. This brought over 80 new titles into SAGE, most of which were in medicine and life sciences.

  • 2018 – Conversion of the Therapeutic Advances series

We had commenced launching titles in the Therapeutic Advances series as subscription journals in 2007, and 10 years later there were 13 titles in the series, many with excellent impact factors. In 2018 we decided to convert the whole series to open access, and the series is now a cornerstone of our OA journal programme.

  • 2020 and beyond

At the start of the new decade, SAGE is publishing over 150 gold OA titles, in nearly all STM and HSS disciplines, and we will continue to develop these over the coming years in order to provide as many authors as possible with high quality, gold OA vehicles for their research. 

Early in 2020 we also announced the launch of a brand new portal to streamline open access publishing process, the SAGE Open Access Portal. See our press release here and information page about the portal here.

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.

Open Access Agreements

SAGE is committed to the global dissemination of research and Open Access is a rapidly evolving, growing key part of that mission. In recent years, SAGE has supported and enabled the increasing transition to Open Access publishing. Initially through offsetting agreements and providing hybrid Open Access publishing in traditional journals, in recent years this has grown to support full national-scale agreements in several European countries, with some beginning in 2020. We are also piloting new experimental models like the arrangement we have entered into with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2020. Click here more information about SAGE’s Open Access Agreements.

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.