Communication Scholarship and the Quest for Open Access

Authors : Preston Carmack, Michael R. Kearney, Abbey N. McCann

The advent of black, green, and gold open access publication models poses unique questions for scholars of communication. Plato’s (1956) classic critique of writing in the legend of Theuth and Thamus warned that the printed word “rolls about all over the place, falling into the hands of those who have no concern with it” (pp. 69–70).

More than two 2 millennia later, scholars and administrators at all levels of the discipline face just such a phenomenon. As scholars of cyberspace debate whether “information wants to be free” (Levy, 2014), a communication perspective involves consideration of the importance of authorship and attribution amid an ever-shifting array of digital publishing options and subversions.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the ongoing transformation of academic publishing by examining black, green, and gold open access models, the responses of the communication discipline, and ongoing questions surrounding the nature and extent of accessibility.

As access options for research and publication continue to evolve, this study hopes to provide coordinates for administrators seeking to navigate questions concerning the what, how, and why of communication scholarship in a digital age.

URL : Communication Scholarship and the Quest for Open Access

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Should open access lead to closed research? The trends towards paying to perform research

Authors : Lin Zhang, Yahui Wei, Ying Huang, Gunnar Sivertsen

Open Access (OA) emerged as an important transition in scholarly publishing worldwide during the past two decades. So far, this transition is increasingly based on article processing charges (APC), which create a new paywall on the researchers’ side. Publishing is part of the research process and thereby necessary to perform research.

This study analyses the global trends towards paying to perform research by combing observed trends in publishing from 2015 to 2020 with an APC price list. APC expenses have sharply increased among six countries with different OA policies: the USA, China, the UK, France, the Netherlands, and Norway.

The estimated global revenues from APC among major publishers now exceed 2 billion US dollars annually. Mergers and takeovers show that the industry is moving towards APC-based OA as the more profitable business model.

Research publishing will be closed to those who cannot make an institution or project money payment. Our results lead to a discussion of whether APC is the best way to promote OA.

URL : Should open access lead to closed research? The trends towards paying to perform research


Promoting a culture of openness: Institutional open access policy development and evaluation at a Canadian university

Authors : Alison J. Moore, Jennifer Zerkee, Kate Shuttleworth, Rebecca Dowson, Gwen Bird

Institutional open access (OA) policies can act as a solid foundation on which to build university-wide support for open access. This is the first paper to reflect on the entire process of developing, implementing, and reviewing an institutional open access policy at a Canadian post-secondary institution.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) is one of a few Canadian universities with an institutional open access policy. As a leader in open access, SFU is well positioned to share observations of our experiences in the first three years of our OA policy.

Throughout this paper, we reflect on the role that the policy plays in the broader culture of openness at SFU and on the OA resources and supports provided to SFU researchers.

Other institutions may find our observations and adoption of the SOAR (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, results) appreciative inquiry framework useful as they explore future policy development or review and work to promote a culture of open access within their university community.

URL: Promoting a culture of openness: Institutional open access policy development and evaluation at a Canadian university


Austrian Transition to Open Access: a collaborative approach

Authors : Rita Pinhasi, Lothar Hölbling, Brigitte Kromp

This article presents a collaborative project, the ‘Austrian Transition to Open Access’ (AT2OA), initially running from 2017 to 2020, which had the overarching goal of enabling the large-scale transformation of publishing outputs from closed to open access (OA) in Austria.

The initiative, which has recently secured funding for a second four-year cycle from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, brings together all key players: universities, research institutes, the national library consortium and a cOAlition S funding member, the Austrian Science Fund.

The project outcomes include a transition feasibility study that builds on the methodology of the 2015 Schimmer et al. article, the seeds of a national OA monitoring data hub and transformative agreements with major publishers.

In addition, the project helped launch institutional OA Publishing Funds across the country and explored alternative publishing models. Furthermore, it saw the emergence of a nationwide network of OA experts. The authors also share their thoughts on lessons learned.

URL: Austrian Transition to Open Access: a collaborative approach


Do authors of research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research comply with its open access mandate?: A meta-epidemiologic study

Authors : Michael A. Scaffidi, Karam Elsolh, Juana Li, Yash Verma, Rishi Bansal, Nikko Gimpaya, Vincent Larivière, Rishad Khan, Samir C. Grover


Since 2008, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has mandated that studies it funds either in whole or in part are required to publish their results as open access (OA) within 12 months of publication using either online repositories and/or OA journals.

Yet, there is evidence that authors are poorly compliant with this mandate. Specifically, there has been an apparent decrease in OA publication after 2015, which coincides with a change in the OA policy during the same year.

One particular policy change that may have contributed to this decline was lifting the requirement that authors deposit their article in an OA repository immediately upon publication.

We investigated the proportion of OA compliance of CIHR-funded studies in the period before and after the policy change of 2015 with manual confirmation of both CIHR funding and OA status.

Methods and findings

We identified CIHR-funded studies published between the years 2014 to 2017 using a comprehensive search in the Web of Science (WoS). We took a stratified random sample from all four years (i.e. 2014 to 2017), with 250 studies from each year.

Two authors independently reviewed the final full-text publications retrieved from the journal web page to determine to confirm CIHR funding, as indicated in the acknowledgements or elsewhere in the paper.

For each study, we also collected bibliometric data that included citation count and Altmetric attention score Statistical analyses were conducted using two-tailed Fisher’s exact test with relative risk (RR). Among the 851 receiving CIHR funding published from 2014 to 2017, the percentage of CIHR-funded studies published as OA significantly decreased from 79.6% in 2014 to 70.3% in 2017 (RR = 0.88, 95% CI: 0.79–0.99, P = 0.028).

When considering all four years, there was no significant difference in the percentage of CIHR-funded studies published as OA in both 2014 and 2015 compared to both 2016 and 2017 (RR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.90–1.05, P = 0.493). Additionally, OA publications had significantly higher citation count (both in year of publication and in total) and higher attention scores (P<0.05).


Overall, we found that there was a significant decrease in the proportion of CIHR funded studies published as OA from 2014 compared to 2017, though this difference did not persist when comparing both 2014–2015 to 2016–2017.

The primary limitation was the reliance of self-reported data from authors on CIHR funding status. We posit that this decrease may be attributable to CIHR’s OA policy change in 2015.

Further exploration is warranted to both validate these studies using a larger dataset and, if valid, investigate the effects of potential interventions to improve the OA compliance, such as use of a CIHR publication database, and reinstatement of a policy for authors to immediately submit their findings to OA repositories upon publication.

URL : Do authors of research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research comply with its open access mandate?: A meta-epidemiologic study


Article processing charge expenditure in Chile: The current situation

Author : Erwin Krauskopf

The National Agency of Research and Development from Chile is proposing, for the first time, a national OA policy aiming to ensure access to the scientific knowledge contained in publications resulting from research projects and graduate thesis.

Since no information regarding APC expenditure in Chile is available, this study examined the cost of APC for the 2019 publications that included at least one Chilean affiliation. The total expenditure for the year 2019 was estimated at USD 9,129,939.

The results confirm that almost one third of the total APC was spent on publications from Health & Medical Sciences, research area with the highest APC (USD 6000). Furthermore, five commercial publishers collected 52% of the total APC expenditure.

Unfortunately, the cost of publishing in some journals is so high that it causes detrimental effects on the research capacity of under resourced individuals. In the Chilean scenario, APC is not well suited to scale as most universities do not have an OA budget to support researchers that are eager to publish their work in OA journals.

Perhaps the implementation of an OA policy ought to be accompanied by sustainable APC funding grants aimed at supporting under resourced researchers that want to make their research freely available.

URL : Article processing charge expenditure in Chile: The current situation


Open Access and Academic Freedom: Teasing Out Some Important Nuances

Author : Rick Anderson

Discussion of the ways in which open access (OA) and academic freedom interact is fraught for a number of reasons, not least of which is the unwillingness of some participants in the discussion to acknowledge that OA might have any implications for academic freedom at all. Thus, any treatment of such implications must begin with foundational questions.

Most basic among them are: first, what do we mean by ‘open access’; second, what do we mean by ‘academic freedom’? The answers to these questions are not as obvious as one might expect (or hope), but when they are answered it becomes much easier to address a third, also very important, question: in what ways might OA and academic freedom interact?

With every new OA mandate imposed by a government agency, institution of higher education, or funding organization, careful analysis of this issue becomes more urgent. This article attempts to sort out some of these issues, controversies and confusions.