Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Major report on author attitudes and experiences in Australia

Anthony Austin, Maree Heffernan, and Nikki David, Academic authorship, publishing agreements and open access: Survey Results, a new report from the OAK Law Project.  The report is dated April 2008 but was released today.  Excerpt:

5.1 Use of Online Repositories

Figure 19 illustrates that the majority of respondents (93%) are in favour of academics granting institutions a limited non-exclusive license to place items in a non-commercial, publicly accessible, online institutional repository.

Approximately half of the sample (53%) indicated that their university or institution promotes or facilitates Open Access. Almost half (45%) have deposited an item in an institutional or other repository to make it freely available online.  Less than one-in-four participants (22%) indicated that their institutional repository gives up-to-date
information on how many times the item has been viewed or downloaded....

5.3 Elements of Open Access

Figure 20 depicts respondents’ views regarding the relevance of certain elements of Open Access.

The most relevant elements identified by respondents were that it results in a wide dissemination of knowledge (63% stating that this is ‘extremely important’; mean=4.53) and that it encourages scientific, social and cultural advancement (60% stating that this is ‘extremely important’; mean=4.43).

Over half of respondents stated that broader access to the results of publically funded research, the distribution of information freely and without cost and the making of information available for re-use were ‘extremely important’.

Respondents thought that allowing a better understanding of how many people access their item and establishing institutional or other repositories were of lower priority (Although 58% thought that allowing a better understanding of how many people access their item was ‘very’ to ‘extremely important’ and 65% thought that establishing institutional or other repositories was ‘very’ to ‘extremely important’)....

5.5 Benefits of Open Access

Figure 21 presents respondents’ agreement with a range of statements regarding the benefits of Open Access.

The benefits that were of greatest relevance for respondents were: increased accessibility to research outputs (61% strongly agreeing; mean=4.48), easier access to material within specialized research field(s) (56% strongly agreeing; mean=4.39), and improved dissemination through broader circulation of research outputs (52% strongly agreeing; mean=4.37).

The benefits that attracted the lowest levels of agreement were: enhanced funding opportunities (17% strongly or somewhat disagreeing and 49% neutral; mean=3.29) or enhanced career advancement (14% strongly or somewhat disagreeing and 46% neutral; mean=3.40) and that it enables new forms of research (11% strongly or
somewhat disagreeing and 35% neutral; mean=3.64)....

5.9 Reasons for Not Depositing into Repositories

Figure 23 demonstrates that the main reasons identified by participants for not depositing an item into an institutional or other repository were a lack of awareness regarding appropriate repositories for the depositing of items (29%) and uncertainty regarding their copyright position (17%). Only 2% of participants cited disagreeing with Open Access principles and 3% cited a preference for placing their items on their personal website as reasons for not depositing an item....

6.1 Reasons for Publishing in Open Access Journals

More than half (59%) of respondents (n= 302) have never published in an Open Access Journal. For those that have published an item in an Open Access Journal (n=207 or 41% of the sample), most indicated that they did so because they have an Open Access Journal in their disciplinary area (45%) or because they desire to promote Open Access principles and ideals (29%; see Figure 28). Thirty-five participants specified other reasons for their choice of publishing in an Open Access Journal....

6.3 Reasons for Not Publishing in Open Access Journals

Almost one-quarter (22%) of respondents indicated that they have not published in an Open Access Journal because they were either unfamiliar with the process or they have no motivation to do so or it is not adequately recognised or acknowledged for the purposes of promotion (see Figure 29)....

Comment.  This significant survey asked all the right questions.  I've caught what I think are the most important excerpts, but the report is long (129 pp.) and I'll need more time to read it with care. 

Update.  Also see Bernard Lane, Dons wary of open access, The Australian, May 28, 2008 (another in a series of misleading headlines).  Excerpt:

A new survey by the Open Access to Knowledge Project at the Queensland University of Technology also reports that more than half of academic authors are unsure whether their publishing agreements with journals allow them to put a copy of their articles in an open access repository.

"It is, I suppose, a little unsettling to see that a lot of people are saying, 'we're not really sure what we're signing and how that will affect dissemination of our research'," said Brian Fitzgerald, OAK law project leader, although the survey showed enthusiasm for open access, especially among early career academics.

Professor Fitzgerald said universities needed to give researchers more advice about how to "strategically manage their copyright" for private benefit and public good.

"They're saying, yes we see the value of open access but we still publish in the traditional area ... some (academics) would like to understand how to put the two models together," he said.

Most in the survey wanted copyright advice, including template publishing agreements, from their institutions. "As researchers we can't close our eyes to a mechanism (such as the internet) to disseminate our work, especially if it's publicly funded," Professor Fitzgerald said....

More than half of the 509 academics who took part in the survey thought it too much trouble to negotiate with publishers. "They see that as almost prejudicial to the likelihood of being published, they don't want to rock the boat," Professor Fitzgerald said.

However, 87 academics had proposed a change to a publishing agreement and in almost every case the publishers had agreed....

Professor Fitzgerald said there was a contradiction between the willingness of almost all academics to grant universities a non-exclusive licence, so that copies of their articles could be deposited in an open access archive, and the fact that 63 per cent of academics signed away their rights to traditional publishers. Yet many publishing agreements were silent on an academic's right to disseminate copies via the web or a repository.