Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Society publishers' attitudes toward OA

SAGE has released Meeting the challenges: societies and scholarly communication (November 2008), the results of a survey it launched in September.

See esp. Section 3.2.6 on Open Access:

As financial return from publishing services is critical to many of the societies in enabling them to deliver their objectives, it was again not surprising that “changing journals sales models” was ranked by 44% as a major challenge, and open access (OA) as a major challenge by 42%.

While it was expected that such a significant result would mean the majority of respondents would be negative towards OA, open responses show a fairly evenly split, but slightly more optimistic outlook, with replies highlighting the ability to broaden readership, despite the possible impact on revenue (chart h)....

[PS:  Chart h shows that more respondents regarded OA as an opportunity than as a threat, but it does not provide numbers.]

As shown on chart i, the primary concern for respondents was the impact of OA on subscriptions (42%). Also highly ranked was the impact on submissions (35%) which is an area currently unexplored in the literature.  Author copyright was also highly ranked (35%). A surprising result was the lower ranking of the depositing of information (ranked as most important by 21%)....

The responses viewing OA as an opportunity were evenly split among disciplines, which was a surprising result. Given the small numbers of respondents involved, it may not be fully indicative of the different situations faced by societies in different research areas.

However, for respondents in this survey, it was particularly interesting to see both HSS and STM responses fairly evenly split on OA as an opportunity or a threat.

Responses viewing OA as an opportunity highlighted the ability to broaden access. The negative responses related to revenue, copyright, and the lack of funds within certain disciplines to support the model....

The evenly split results pro- and anti- OA across the disciplines in this study is surprising and suggests there may be a greater level in favour of free access to research than anticipated....

Comment.  The report does not indicate what percentage of the responding societies publish OA journals.  Hence, it's hard to tell how well the respondents represent the range of societies on OA issues.  Last year, for example, Caroline Sutton and I found 425 societies publishing 450 full OA journals, and 21 societies publishing 73 hybrid OA journals.  (We'll soon release updated numbers which are considerably higher.)  However, the survey was online and open to any society that wanted to fill it out.  For the 118 societies filling out the survey, the OA positives were higher than the OA negatives.  But I wish I knew whether a wider sample would have pushed the numbers higher or lower.

Update (1/13/09). Also see Andrew Albanese's article on this survey for Library Journal.