Author Attitudes, Beliefs, Behaviours

I recently looked over another paper on author attitudes towards Open Access. This was InTech’s which was published last month, and is available here. From this report, the work we have done through the RCS project, discussions I have had, and other papers I have read, there are two things that have now become clear to me (perhaps I am a little late coming to these conclusions, but I haven’t been working in this area as long as many others have).

  1. Impact Factor and its influence is not something we can ignore – for many academics the most important thing is the journal name and the impact that is associated with it. This is currently a major barrier to 1) getting academics to publish in new journals (i.e. OA journals), and 2) getting the publishing system to change (high impact journals have no need to change their business model as publishing in them is highly desired).
    • The argument to this is of course self-archiving and repositories – but we have to be aware that many high impact journals do not allow immediate self-archiving. I did a quick analysis using the top ten journals with the highest impact factor (ISI Impact factor – from Wikipedia) and only 3/10 allowed post-print archiving (according to RoMEO). If you use the top ten journals with the highest combined impact factor (ISI impact factor and PageRank – from Wikipedia) it is a bit better with 5/10 allowing post-print archiving. And is you use ScienceWatch’s top ten most-cited journals, 7/10 allow post-print archiving, which is actually pretty good.
    • My point is, this issue unfortunatley is not instantly solved by self-archiving. Instead we may need to change how academics are evaluated, tenured, promoted, etc. My feeling is that this system is not changing anytime soon…what would it change to?
  2.  Academics don’t really have a clue about what Open Access really is. I have posted on this topic before here. They don’t know that there are multiple ways to make their work OA, and that OA can actually benefit them. They are also mostly unaware of funder and institutional mandates, and they often have no clue that repositories even exist at their institution, for their use.
    • How can we expect academics to make their work OA if they don’t even know what it is?
    • So, what is to be done about this? Who should be responsible for advocating and informing academics? Should this occur at the institutional level, national level, or worldwide?

For more on author attitude, beliefs, behaviours see the following (I have not read all of these – but they are all sitting in a stack on my desk :))

Morris, Sally &  Thorn, Sue. (2009). Learned society members and open access. Learned Publishing 22 (3) p. 221-39,14,21;journal,8,71;linkingpublicationresults,1:107730,1

Kim, Jihyun. (2010). Faculty Self-Archiving: Motivations and Barriers. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 61(9), 1909-1922.

Stone, Graham. (2010). Report on the University Repository Survey, October-November 2010. Research report

Park, Ji-Hong & Qin, Jian (2007). Exploring the Willingness of Scholars to Accept Open Access: A grounded Theory Approach. Journal of Scholarly Publishing.

 Theodorou, Roxana. (201). OA Repositories: the Researchers’ Point of View. Journal of Electronic Publishing, 13(3).;view=text;rgn=main;idno=3336451.0013.304

Allen, James. (2005). Interdisciplinary differences in attitudes towards deposit in institutional repositories

Moore, Gale. (2011). Survey of University of Toronto Faculty Awareness, Attitudes and practices regarding Scholarly Communication: A Preliminary Report.

Image credit: Steve Rhodes


Briefing Papers Online

We have recently released 4 briefing papers about Open Access that are now available on our website and also here on our blog.

The briefing papers cover the following topics:

  • Open Access: In Support of Research
  • Open Access: Beyond the Numbers
  • Open Access: Embedding Repositories
  • “Gold” Open Access Publishing

If you are interested in receiving paper copies please do contact me.

Open Access and wider debate

An article by Zoe Corbyn has appeared in the Times Higher today (12th November 2009), reviewing the current state of open access and rehearsing some of the arguments for and against open access.  This is a long article (5,500 words) and given the wide readership of the Times Higher within UK HE has the potential to be a significant piece.

In spite of the advocacy work that has been done over the last 6 or 7 years, many academics are still unaware of open access and what it may mean for them.  Very often this is not because the information has not got through to them in the first place, but rather that without immediate application of the ideas, academics, quite naturally, forget. We all live in an information-rich environment, with so many calls on our attention that unless advocacy leads to immediate action, details and ideas can be lost in the barrage.

The advantage of such a piece in the Times Higher is that is has the ability to be read by many academics and other staff at the same time and to start conversations in the coffee room or SCR; it comes with a certain badge of relevance given by the publication itself and the reporting touches enough sensitive spots for people to sit up and take notice.

Some of the quotes are robust:

“”Repositories are parasitic on the existing journal structure for their peer-review process,” says Ian Russell, chief executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers.”

and the debate represented likewise:

“However, the open-access movement counters that the journal structure itself can be seen as parasitic, profiting from the free peer-review services that academics provide.”

The article also quite fairly looks at some of the (largely unnecessary) divisions within the open access community between the promotion of gold or green routes.

It will be interesting to see what responses this generates. Other reports in the Times Higher and other general HE publications have tended to be far shorter single issue pieces and able to be dismissed as minor items of specialist interest. This is far more wide-ranging in scope and may be enough to embed the topic as one that is of interest for everyone.

Given the scope of OA and other research communication developments (text-mining, access to grey literature, etc) it is vital that there is more general debate and reporting like this:  that research communications as a whole are seen as a proper and interesting topic to report on and for everyone to discuss. Ultimately, any change has to be made with the agreement and engagement of those concerned. A significant aim of advocacy has always been engagement of academics and other institutional staff with the debate itself: let us hope that this opens the wider debate.