Open Access News

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Another survey of author attitudes

William Walsh has blogged some notes on four presentations at NASIG 2007 (Louisville, May 31 - June 3, 2007).  See esp. his notes on Roger Schonfeld's presentation.  Excerpt:

  • How Does Digitization Affect Scholarship? by Roger Schonfeld
    • What is the optimal model for a scholarly journal? ...
    • What characteristics are important to authors?
      • Question asked authors:
        • When it comes to influencing decisions about journals in which to publish an article of yours, how important to you is each of the following characteristics of an academic journal?
      • Response (Percentages of respondents who believe characteristic is "very important.")
        • Wide circulation and reading (80+%)
        • No cost to publish (60+%)
        • Preservation is assured (60+%)
        • Highly selective (40+%)
        • Accessible in developing world (40+%)
        • Available for free (less than 40%)
    • Authors seek to maximize the impact of their work...
  • Comment.  I'm not surprised that authors ranked "wide circulation and reading" at the top of their list of important characteristics in a journal. What needs some thought is the finding that "available for free" ranked sixth.  Did the survey or interview somehow create an artificial distinction between wide circulation and OA?  (The bad survey interpretation.)  Are authors largely unaware that OA journals have a much wider circulation than even the best-selling TA journals?  (The clueless author interpretation.)  Or are authors merely saying that they needn't publish in an OA journal when they can usually deposit the same articles in an OA repository?  (The clueful author interpretation.)

    Update (June 11, 2007). Roger Schonfeld has posted five slides on this survey from his larger presentation. (Thanks, Roger.) The wording of the original question is in slide #3. The two relevant options for authors were these:

    The journal makes its articles freely available on the Internet, so there is no cost to purchase or to read [and]

    The current issues of the journal are circulated widely, and are well read by scholars in your field.

    His own interpretation of the results is in slide #5:

    • Authors prefer to submit their articles to journals that will maximize the impact of their work within their field.
    • While there are some disciplinary differences between preferences among the six journal characteristics, this overall finding is consistent.
    • Although some policy-makers may believe that free availability is necessary to maximize the impact of a given work, authors do not believe this.
    • Authors’ perspectives help to explain their submission practices to various journals as well as repositories.
    This study is one of many Faculty Surveys on online resources undertaken by Ithaka, where Roger is the Manager of Research.