We’re for Open Access

October 24th, 2022

We've been publishing journals since 1948, but a lot has changed since then; including the move towards Open Access research.
The covers of 17 journals across a variety of disciplines. The CSIRO Publishing logo is in the bottom right corner

We added more journals to our Read and Publish agreements this year. From left to right: Animal Production Science, Australian Journal of Botany, Australian Journal of Chemistry, Australian Journal of Primary Health, Australian Journal of Zoology, Australian Systematic Botany, Crop and Pasture Science, Environmental Chemistry, Functional Plant Biology, Historical Records of Australian Science, Invertebrate Systematics, Marine and Freshwater Research, Pacific Conservation Biology, Reproduction, Fertility and Development, Sexual Health, Soil Research, Wildlife Research.


We’re not just a publisher: as a not-for-profit, editorially independent business unit within the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), we are also part of the research community.

As such, we believe strongly that our purpose is to enhance the impact of science by communicating the outcomes of research, empowering decision makers, and enriching the lives of all our readers.

And these days, that means supporting the move to make science openly accessible for all.


Technology has and continues to change the world of journal publishing

The CSIRO scholarly journals program started in 1948 and CSIRO Publishing was established as a stand-alone imprint and publishing house in 1995. A year later, we began publishing our journals online. As more scientific research became readily available to those with an internet connection, conversations began about the potential to make content freely accessible to readers.

By 2004 our journal publishing was conducted using XML files. This technology is critical to support the metadata to required standards that ensures content is easily discovered, and can be indexed by key global databases, such as CrossRef and PubMed.

We adopted an online submission and peer review service in 2005, which made the publishing process more efficient and faster for everyone involved, especially our authors. In 2010 we switched to using ScholarOne.

It was around 2005 that we also adopted a Green Open Access policy (with zero embargo), in response to our community, in particular librarians, calling for this change. We also offered Open Access through author processing charges (APCs) and each year since, have seen an increase in our authors choosing an Open Access model. We also started working with Research4Life to make our content available to developing countries.

Today, a mostly digital world, there are fewer barriers to access to our published content, and this is vital to us. We are after all a small publisher based far from most of the world’s major institutions, and do not have the resources to operate an international sales force to sell subscriptions. Open Access takes away the need for this and helps us reach new audiences interested in the scientific research we publish.

However, as the calls to make publicly funded research openly accessible grow louder, the idea of Open Access has become conflated with ‘free’. For us, free access would mean we could not pay our staff. We wouldn’t be able to maintain the systems required to publish our peer-reviewed journals to high standards that make them discoverable and accessible.


“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently.”

This 1971 quote by Nobel Economics Laureate Herbert Simon remains appropriate in a world where anyone can access information easily online, but where it can be difficult to find the right and most useful information, and readers seek indications that information is worth their time to read, and that it is also accurate and valuable. Open Access content still needs to be promoted. Readers still need to be guided to find the right research to answer their question and to know that what they are reading is trustworthy.

As a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) we support the recommendations of the COPE Core Practices and recognise the importance of high standards of ethical behaviour throughout the publication process. Our policies support this, and demonstrate our commitment to openness, transparency, and reproducibility in publishing.

We are committed to finding a way to embrace Open Access in a way that does not compromise the integrity of research we publish. In 2020, we made the move to enter into Read and Publish agreements with a growing list of institution libraries, enabling researchers from those institutions to publish their work as Open Access in our participating journals at no additional cost.

This has enabled us to provide more accessible options for our authors, while maintaining our usual high standards of publication.

As the business models, technology and service partners in scholarly publishing continue to adapt and evolve, it is our aim to remain a viable alternative to the large commercial publishers. We want to support a diversity of voices in science and work with our society partners to publish valuable contributions to the research landscape.


Read more about our Open Access policies on our website, and browse our journals for more information.

Find out about our publishing policies including COPE membership and publication ethics.