The Microbiology Society and Open Access

Posted on October 22, 2018   by Tasha Mellins-Cohen

Over the summer, the Microbiology Society publishing and policy teams worked together to re-align our Open Access position statement with our publishing practices, and the updated policy was approved by Council on 7 September.

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As a membership charity and independent publisher, we have been offering Open Access publishing through the OpenMicrobiology initiative for many years, and are committed to being as open as possible, supporting not only Open Access but also other Open Science activities. The key word in our open initiatives is sustainability, because revenues from our journals help fund other programmes, including grants, professional development, and even Annual Conference.

Since the Society’s original Open Access position statement was written in 2015, our publishing practices have changed to reflect the needs of our community. For example, we originally insisted on a twelve-month embargo before authors were able to deposit their articles in an institutional repository. That changed in 2017, when we started actively encouraging authors to deposit pre-prints1 of their articles in biorXiv and allowed immediate deposit of post-prints2 after publication. Both these types of deposition meet even the most stringent funders’ requirements for what is known as ‘Green’ Open Access.


OpenMicrobiology is a ‘Gold’ Open Access option available in all four of our traditional titles - Microbiology, Journal of General Virology, Journal of Medical Microbiology, and International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. It also applies to every article in our pure Open Access titles, Microbial Genomics and the new Access Microbiology. Articles published under OpenMicrobiology attract an Article Processing Charge, but are freely available on from the day of publication under a Creative Commons license that allows not just free access, but free reuse of the articles. Our review this summer hasn’t resulted in many policy changes to OpenMicrobiology but did lead us to double the discount offered to Society members, from 15% to 30%. The discount applies to every article published by any member of the Society, and is simple to claim – just put your membership number into the form when agreeing to pay your Article Processing Charge, and 30% will be deducted immediately.

Free-to-read subscription articles

As part of our educational remit, the Society also makes all subscription articles (that is, any article not published under OpenMicrobiology) free-to-read 12 months after publication. This is sometimes called ‘Bronze’ Open Access, and it runs alongside our ‘Gold’ and ‘Green’ options. The free-to-read status covers everything in our archive, all the way back to the launch of Microbiology in 1947. We also take part in the Research4Life initiative (, providing developing countries with free or low-cost access to all of our content from the day of publication.

We believe that our approach mean that everyone should be able to access the articles we have published over the last 70 years: freely from the archive, through an institutional or Research4Life subscription to current content, through OpenMicrobiology access to current content, or through a pre-print or post-print deposited by an author.

For more information about the practicalities of Open Access at the Society, please visit To explore other publishers’ Open Access policies, please check out SHERPA/RoMEO at


  1. A ‘pre-print’ is an early version of the scientific article that has not been through peer review before being posted online.
  2. A ‘post-print’ is the accepted version of a scientific article, including modifications based on reviewers’ suggestions, but which has not been copyedited or typeset.