Analysis of Chemists and Economists survey on Open…

Analysis of Chemists and Economists survey on Open Access :

“The data presented here should be approached with due caution. We are dealing with a relatively small number of academics from a selection of higher education institutions (HEIs), so extrapolating these findings to academia as a whole would not be advisable. There are few non-participants in open access (OA) in the sample, so if there is a bias in the sample, it is towards those who already engage with OA. We can therefore feel more confident about the data regarding why academics do use OA as opposed to why they do not. There were however a large number of participants who did not always make their work OA. From them we should gain some insight into the barriers that currently exist to making work OA.

We know that three institutions from which the academics in this study were drawn have a policy or mandate requiring academic staff to make their work open access. Of those that did have an institutional policy (54 academics), only seven were confident of this. A similar picture existed with funder mandates. Of those that did have a funder mandate (65 academics) only 14 reported that they did. The majority of the academics in the study are engaged with open access, so we can conclude that these policies have had little impact on the uptake of OA. HEIs have failed to get the message of these mandates over to these engaged academics, so we can surmise that the message has also not got over to the less engaged.

The motivations for engaging with open access given by these academics tend to be internal, personal reasons, especially altruistic ones. Both chemists and economists see themselves as working for the wider public benefit. However, economists especially also give more selfish reasons, where OA is seen as conferring a personal benefit. External forces that attempt to push academics towards engagement with OA feature less prominently. One academic commented that the existence of an institutional mandate would make him feel less inclined to engage. However, these are academics who are already engaged, and may be enthusiastic, early adopters of OA. It may take more “push” to bring the others on board.

Quality is a concern for both chemists and economists. The need to publish in high-impact journals and the peer-review process are major concerns of academics when they choose not to participate in OA. These are however issues that would affect any new journal, in any medium. Reputation and the perception of quality take time to develop. However open-access journals need to ensure that they have adequate quality procedures in place with regard to issues like plagiarism and peer review.

The use of an open access option from a traditional journal was the least popular means of making work open access. This is in spite of this option offering a solution to the problem of quality. Cost was a major issue for academics when they choose not to make work open access. Most of these same academics reported that institutional support for payment of open access fees would encourage them to participate in future.”