Author : Emily Nunn
The thesis investigates how publics outside academia engage with ideas of open access (OA) to research publications. To do this, it analyses data from interviews with users of health and education research in two non-academic contexts, as well as with researchers interested in communicating their work to wider audiences. It draws on constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006) and situational analysis (Clarke, 2005).
The literature review highlighted a need to empirically explore OA outside academia. The study focused on the ways in which publications were accessed and used outside academia and the factors enabling and preventing access.
It also explored perceptions of OA within a wider context of communicating research to non- academic audiences, and identified areas of contestation. The study found that there was a demand for OA, although the demand was perceived to be limited. There were significant sources of friction in accessing research publications, including paywalls, which could be circumvented through file/password sharing and drawing on contacts.
Conceptual access (e.g. understandability) was also found to prevent engagement with research publications in some cases, although this varied according to levels of expertise. The study identified research intermediaries as playing an important dual role, as they accessed research in order to make it accessible to a wider audience.
The study found a disconnect between some OA advocacy and research-user perceptions. and a disconnect between researchers’ commitment to communicating their work outside the academy and their support of OA.
Attitudes towards OA were influenced by bureaucratic mandates, high APCs and belief that there would be little demand for their research. Findings indicated however, that OA could complement other forms of research communication in specific contexts.
Finally, the study suggested that a narrow focus on ‘tangible outcomes’ for non- academic publics (Moore, 2019) risked obscuring attempts to develop a more equitable scholarly communications system.
URL : Open access to health and education research outside academia: perspectives of research users, research intermediaries and researchers
Original location : https://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/23582/