Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

CIBER's second author survey on OA issues

Ian Rowlands and Dave Nichols, New Journal Publishing Models: An International Survey of Senior Researchers, CIBER (Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research), September 22, 2005. Excerpt:
This survey reports on the behaviour, attitudes and perceptions of 5,513 senior journal authors on range of issues relating to a scholarly communication system which is in the painful early stages of a digital revolution....In determining where to publish, the author population as a whole does not attach much importance to being able to retain their copyright in the article, nor to gaining permission to place a pre- or post-print on the Web or in some kind of repository....Significantly, senior authors and researchers believe downloads to be a more credible measure of the usefulness of research than traditional citations, perhaps indicating a commercial opportunity for publishers....With regard to open access two significant shifts appear to have occurred since the last survey [PS: in March 2004]. Firstly, the research community is now much more aware of the open access issue. There has been a large rise in authors knowing quite a lot about open access (up 10 percentage points from the 2004 figure) and a big fall in authors knowing nothing at all about open access (down 25 points). Secondly, the proportion of authors publishing in an open access journal has grown considerably from 11 per cent (2004) to 29 per cent.....Authors strongly believe that, as a result of open access, articles will become more accessible and, somewhat less strongly, that budgetary pressures on libraries would ease as a result. They do not believe, however, that quality will improve....A clear majority of authors believes that mass migration to open access would undermine scholarly publishing. Of those who expressed an opinion, half believed this was likely; however, a good proportion of these people thought this would probably be a good thing so there is evidence of considerable dissatisfaction with the status quo....There is very little enthusiasm for author-or reader facing charges, and a feeling that libraries should not have to make such a large contribution to the costs of the journals system as they bear at the moment. The favoured option is that a greater burden should be borne (in this order) by research funders, commercial sponsors and central government....Authors are not at all knowledgeable about institutional repositories: less than 10 per cent declared that they know `a little’ or `a lot? about this development, and there are signs of a dragging of feet: a significant minority (38 per cent) of those expressing an opinion, declare a clear unwillingness to deposit their articles in an institutional repository....Looking at the author population as whole, two clusters of researchers with especially positive views about open access and the need for reform of the current system are evident. The most radicalised group (‘OA Enthusiasts’) makes up about 8% of the total population. This group is characterised by its youth, its geographical composition (with very strong representation from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe) and a tendency towards more applied and clincal ends of the research spectrum. For a very large majority of mid-career and older researchers in the `Anglosphere mainstream’, open access issues are not at all high on their list of priorities. Not so far, anyway.