Why don’t more academics do Open Access publishing?

A report on a survey of 350 chemists and 350 economists in UK universities leads to the following conclusion about open access publishing:

…our work with researchers on the ground indicates to us that whatever the enthusiasm and optimism within the OA community, it has not spilled into academia to a large extent and has had only a small effect on the publishing habits and perceptions of ordinary researchers, whatever their seniority and whether in Chemistry or Economics.

The report finds that faculty members want to publish in high “impact factor” journals unless they have some specific reason why they should go the Open Access route, e.g., they need to get something out quickly. The subscriptions their libraries buy mask from them the extent to which their work becomes inaccessible to those who are not a university.

The report ends with some recommendations for trying to move academics towards OA publishing.

8 Responses to “Why don’t more academics do Open Access publishing?”

  1. Stevan Harnad

    NO NEED TO RENOUNCE HIGH-IMPACT NON-OA JOURNALS TO PROVIDE OA: OA NOT= OA JOURNALS

    (1) OA not= OA journal publishing (Gold OA). There’s also OA self-archiving of the authors’ drafts of articles published in non-OA journals (Green OA). There’s no need to renounce high-impact journals to provide Green OA.

    Economics is one of the disciplines that has been providing Green OA the longest and most, alongside physics and computer science. The Schmoller/Jennings/Ferguson report notes this without seeming to grasp its implications.

    (2) The American Chemical Society (ACS) is among the minority of publishers that do not yet endorse Green OA self-archiving (except if it is mandated). The natural solution is to mandate it.

    Stevan Harnad
    EnablingOpenScholarship
    http://www.openscholarship.org

  2. Seb Schmoller

    Stevan,

    The background for this is that thought-leading experts like yourself have laid out in detail the benefits of Open Access yet there is frustration amongst librarians, funders, users, and others that the message seems not to have got to many (most?) researchers.

    The CRC commissioned previous work which seemed to reinforce this. So why? Our brief for this piece of work was to report on the beliefs and cultural factors which impede the use and take up of Open Access amongst researchers in academic institutions.

    To suggest that we “do not get it” rather misses the point: we are trying to answer the question why do researchers not enthusiastically embrace OA? We reported the situation as we found it. Personally we are very enthusiastic about Green OA. The very fact that, in spite of the difference in adoption of Green OA, economists differ little from chemists in their attitudes indicates to us that there are powerful top-led, peer-reinforced pressures which motivate researchers more than mandates. In fact it seems that many researchers are motivated by a desire to share their work as widely as possible but there are career imperatives which trump those motivations.

    As far as repositories are concerned, we encountered broadly two attitudes:
    1. “Repository? Not sure if we have one, never used it.” (and this is institutions with a strong high-level commitment to repositories and with active mandates)
    2. “I love the repository and use it a lot to share things – but if I have some piece of work which I think is important for my career I will go for impact and career progression first. If the publisher allows me to put a pre-print in the repository all well and good; but if not, I won’t jeopardise my CV and future promotion/appointment prospects by preferring another publisher.”

    While we are not by any means authorities on OA, we do understand that green and gold OA are different things. But do most researchers … and do they care? If not, then how to address the cultural factors? We were told that institutional and funder mandates would not by themselves change attitudes. Of course, it may be that people are reluctant to admit to themselves that mandates with teeth would indeed change their behaviour. But I’m sure we all have experience of academic institutions having policies which are derided, circumvented or ignored by staff. We think the cultural and motivational factors need to be addressed and we make some clear suggestions as to how this might be done.

    Seb Schmoller, Nicky Ferguson, David Jennings

  3. Stevan Harnad

    GREEN OA SELF-ARCHIVING MANDATES WORK:
    ADOPT THEM AND PROMOTE ADOPTION

    Dear Seb, Nicky & David,

    I share the frustration, of course.

    But the solution is not in polling the opinions of the researchers on why they don’t provide OA: Their opinions are self-contradictory. Even those professing to know and understand the difference between Green and Gold OA keep thinking (incoherently) that they must make a choice between OA or their preferred high-impact journal.

    Close to 20 years of experience has long taught those of us who have been at this altogether too long that neither information nor persuasion is the solution: Green OA mandates are.

    And I mean mandates — not questionnaires for researchers about mandates, or about OA.

    There are now over 200 Green OA self-archiving mandates from institutions and funders worldwide — http://roarmap.eprints.org — far too few to make any difference in the global annual amount of OA from the world’s 10,000+ institutions, but more than enough to have demonstrated that mandates do work — and that their effectiveness is related to what they mandate and how:

    The best mandate (IDOA, Liege model) is the one that (1) requires immediate deposit of the author’s refereed final draft upon acceptance for publication — no waivers or opt-outs — and (2) repository deposit is designated to be the only way to submit publications for performance review:
    http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/71-guid.html
    http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/737-guid.html

    Why do most researchers not self-archive at all (let alone “enthusiastically”)? There are at least 38 reasons — http://www.eprints.org/openaccess/self-faq/#38-worries — all of them groundless and easily refuted, but none will budge without a self-archiving mandate: The two main reasons you already know from your own survey: worries about copyright and green/gold confusions.

    The copyright worry is mooted by the IDOA mandate by not requiring that the immediate-deposit be made immediately OA, if the author is worried about copyright. Over 60% (including virtually all the top journals) of journals already endorse immediate Green OA; for those that don’t, authors can make the deposit Closed Access. That already generates over 60% immediate Green OA (compared to about 15% if unmandated) and for the rest, there is the repository’s semi-automatic eprint-request Button to tide over research needs during any publisher embargo on OA. That’s 60% immediate OA and 40% almost-OA, immediately, if IDOA is mandated.

    (And Green/Gold confusions are side-lined if we forget about Gold OA for now, and focus on achieving Green OA first.)

    For things to change, we cannot simply keep echoing back to researchers the opinions and misapprehensions that have been holding them back for two decades already.

    Nor is the solution to use subscription bargaining to try to persuade publishers to endorse Green OA (or to lower the price on their hybrid Gold OA).

    The solution is to mandate Green OA — and for those who are impatient for universal OA at long last to throw their efforts fully behind informing their institutions about the need to mandate Green OA — as Professor Bernard Rentier, Rector of the University of Liege, architect of the Liege mandate, and founder of EnablingOpenScholarship will be doing, with a vengeance, starting this autumn (with the full support of those of us who have been at this for altogether too long!).

    Stevan Harnad
EnablingOpenScholarship
http://www.openscholarship.org

  4. Stevan Harnad

    PS The worst strategy of all, I regret to say, is precisely the one on which the report puts the most emphasis: recommending a double standard, by giving more weight to a journal in promotion and funding simply because it is Gold OA! Not only is this, yet again, taking OA to mean Gold OA, but why on earth should the cost-recovery model of a journal — rather than just its track-record for quality — carry any weight at all in the evaluation of papers published in it? Again, with Green OA, the very idea of double standards never arises, since the author need make no change in journal, just in how much access they provide to their article, through self-archiving. Yet not a word is said in the report’s recommendations about Green OA or Green OA mandates…

  5. David Jennings

    Thanks to Stevan for this constructive contribution. Our reading of the spirit of the suggestion that “repository deposit is designated to be the only way to submit publications for performance review” is that it’s in the same vein as our recommendation, “Changing incentive frameworks within institutions and within disciplines so that OA publishing is rewarded in promotion criteria”.

    Would it be fair to say that we are all — at least, Stevan and we, the report writers — looking for interventions that will advance the cause of OA (of at least one colour) in the short to medium term? We do this in the confident belief that, in the long term, once OA has a more established footing, its advantages will seem self-evident and intervention will cease to be necessary. The question seems to be what kind of intervention, and in what specific area, we should act now. But any intervention creates the hazard of a double standard. That’s the nature of “affirmative action”. The hazard exists for Green OA mandates as it does for incentives to encourage Gold OA. These are temporary measures designed to stimulate OA getting a strong footing.

    We accept that there can be differences of opinion over what measures are best. We do not expect our report to be the last word on this, and welcome alternative suggestions such as Stevan’s.

    We hear the point from Stevan questioning the polling of researchers’ opinions. That was the remit of our work, but we also sought to draw attention to the wider ecosystem of publishers, librarians, and university administrators, as well as scholarly societies, associations, funding agencies and others.

    And on one final point, we didn’t intend to take OA to mean Gold OA exclusively or mainly for that matter. Our recommendations apply to both Green and Gold OA and don’t single out either option. If the way the report is written leads many readers to arrive at the same interpretation as Stevan has, then we may look at including some further explanatory clarification to the report.

    Seb Schmoller, Nicky Ferguson, David Jennings

  6. Steve Hitchcock

    On whether the report is even-handed on green and gold OA in its recommendations, my Twitter comment on the paper (@stevehit, July 11, 2011) noted the same point: RCS ‘Further’ report has 1-para. sections on #Repositories and #Mandates. Neither word makes it into final section: future–paths to change?

  7. Stevan Harnad

    GREEN OA DOES NOT NEED DOUBLE STANDARDS AS AN INCENTIVE: IT JUST NEEDS TO BE MANDATED

    David Jennings wrote in his reply, very constructively:

    — DJ: “we didn’t intend to take OA to mean Gold OA exclusively or mainly… Our recommendations apply to both Green and Gold OA and don’t single out either option… If the way the report is written leads many readers to arrive at the same interpretation as Stevan has, then we may look at including some further explanatory clarification to the report.”

    As an illustration of the fact that this further explanatory clarification of the report will indeed be very useful and timely, I will use the very point David makes in reply, a point which continues to be based on an inadvertent “OA = Gold OA” assumption:

    — DJ: “Our reading of the spirit of [SH’s] suggestion that “repository deposit [needs to be] designated to be the only way to submit publications for performance review” is that it’s in the same vein as our recommendation, “Changing incentive frameworks within institutions and within disciplines so that OA publishing is rewarded in promotion criteria”…. [A]ny intervention creates the hazard of a double standard… [both] for Green OA mandates [and] for incentives to encourage Gold OA. These are temporary measures designed to stimulate OA getting a strong footing… That’s the nature of “affirmative action”.

    I don’t think the two recommendations are in the same vein at all. We certainly need definitive intervention to facilitate and accelerate OA, but we definitely do not need — and hence should not recommend — double standards in research evaluation (performance review, promotion).

    Putting a higher evaluative weight on an article simply because it is published in a Gold OA journal is both arbitrary (for evaluation) and unnecessary (for OA). OA is its own reward. If the article has value, then making it OA will increase its usage and citations, and then those impact metrics can be counted and credited (as they already are). But that has nothing to do with publishing in a Gold OA journal! The same increase in usage and citation impact occurs with articles that are published in non-OA journals and then made OA through author self-archiving (Green OA). The evaluative standards for all articles remain the same: the quality and importance of the research itself, with greater weight for objective evidence of greater usage and citation impact. And OA — whether Gold or Green — increases usage and citation impact. No double standard for publishing in this journal vs. that journal: Just measuring and rewarding usage and citation impact as one does already anyway.

    Nor is an institutional Green OA self-archiving mandate — one that is coupled with the policy that henceforth the means of submitting publications for institutional performance review is to deposit them in the institutional repository — invoking any double standard, any more than a policy that henceforth the means of submitting publications for institutional performance review is to submit an electronic copy rather than a print copy. It is just an update in administrative procedures, it applies to all articles, and it is in keeping with ongoing technological developments. (Indeed, it represents good current practice today even without an OA mandate!)

    So I think David is still unwittingly conflating Green and Gold OA, in imagining that a double standard is needed in order to create an incentive to provide OA: A double standard in research evaluation may increase the incentive to provide Gold OA (since Gold OA cannot be mandated), but it will at the same time decrease the fairness and validity of research evaluation. And Green OA does not need a double standard, it only needs to be mandated — and it can, and hence should be. The rewards of OA itself will provide the rest.

    Stevan Harnad
    EnablingOpenScholarship