An overlay journal is an open access, quality-assured journal whose articles are held in one or more repositories. An overlay journal does not host the articles on the journal’s website but links back to the relevant article in an open repository or preprint server.

Overlay journals represent an innovative and cost effective option to traditional journals. The COAR Notify Initiative is developing the technical glue that will enable overlay journals connect directly with articles in all compatible repositories and preprint servers, which will allow overlay journals to scale.

Why publish in an overlay journal?

  • Most overlay journals have no Article Processing Charges (APCs) and no embargo periods
  • Authors simply deposit their preprint into the repository or preprnt server, then submit the link to the relevant overlay journal. Yur preprint will be immediately available to your colleagues.

See the example of Discrete Analysis 

  • Overlay journals have editorial boards
  • Like traditional journals, articles submitted to overlay journals undergo a peer review process

See Advances in Combinatorics and other examples below.

  • Overlay journals assign a persistent identifier assignments to articles
  • Articles in overlay journals are included in citation services, indexes and discovery service

Overlay journals are often run independently by groups of scholars, rather than large publishing companies

  • Because articles are available in an open repository or preprint server and licensed for reuse with attribution, automatic translations/multilingual versions are possible. See for example Paunlingua
  • Article versioning is easier in overlay journals because there are common practices across repositories and preprint servers

Why choose the overlay model for your journal?

  •  Because the storage and access costs for the articles are covered by the repository or preprint server which hosts the article, the costs of running an overlay journal are significantly lower than traditional journals.
  •  There are funding opportunities for your journal because there are a growing number of academic libraries interested in supporting the overlay model

Articles and preprints in repositories and preprint servers are already licensed under an open license, therefore there are no hassles with copyright for editors

  • Articles in overlay journals are discoverable through both the preprint repository and the journal web pages and therefore are more visible in the ecosystem
  • In many disciplines, scholars already use preprint servers as a primary way to stay up-to-date on the latest research in their field because they are centralised, known deposit centres that offer search functionality

For example, both arXiv and and theOpen Journal of Astrophysics have all of their articles indexed in Google Scholar.

  • Many overlay journals make their publishing processes as transparent as possible

Getting Started

  • There are a growing number of (low or no) fee overlay service provider(s), which support the journal submission, editorial, and publishing workflows

See for example or Scholastica

  • Overlay journals are relatively easy to set up. Many use WordPress to host the webpages and maintain a simple editorial workflow with peer reviewers using email.

See this short “Do-it-yourself Overlay Journal” article in that explains how to use OSF and WordPress to set up a low-cost, open source, overlay journal