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Is openness important to book authors?

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To publish a book in gold open access, in order to make it open at the publisher’s website, an author has to choose an open access book publisher, which are currently not so numerous. When it comes to choosing a publisher, book authors, similar to authors of academic papers, treat open access as an important factor, but at the same time they believe that there are more important issues that need to be taken into account.

We asked these respondents of the Key Challenges of Research Communication De Gruyter Open Survey who published a book or who plan to publish a book, what factors are important to them in the process of choosing a publisher. They were asked to rate each factor on a 1 to 10 scale, where 1 means “Not important at all” and 10 “Extremely important”. 55.5% rate open access 6 or more and 9.5% gave it the highest note of 10. However, at the same time, open access scored the lowest median of importance (6) from all presented factors, and got the biggest number of 1 and 1 to 5 grades.factors_of_choosing_book_publisher

3 factors with the highest medians (8) are “Chances of getting published”, “Publisher’s expertise on topic of your work” and “Reliable peer review”. Balancing these 3 aspects seems to be complicated enough that the impact of less important “Open access option provided” on real publishing behaviours seems to be annulled, especially in the core countries. In the Rich Global North there is no significant correlation between the importance of open access to a researcher and a percentage of open access books that (s)he actually published. In the global periphery authors who value open access as a more important factor in choosing a book publisher indeed publish more often in OA. But this is a weak correlation (Spearman 0.3). It might suggest that among reasonable publishing options available to authors from the periphery, open access is more popular than among publishers available to researchers from wealthy countries.

Open access (together with chances to get published and publication delay) is generally more important for authors from the peripheral countries, both as a factor of choosing a book publisher, or a journal to publish a paper in, scoring a median of importance of 7. However, it is hard to say on the basis of our results why it is so and which aspect or effect of openness makes it more attractive to them. Beliefs about the ethical state of open access and about possible promotional or citation advantage do not correlate with either the importance of open access or real publishing behaviours.

Obviously, authors who feel that they are expected to publish in open access by supervisors or colleagues are more likely to treat open access as an important factor in choosing a book publisher (Spearman 0.36), however this pressure seems to have no effect on their real publishing behaviours.

Interestingly, in the case of choosing a book publisher, open access is also slightly more important to students than to more mature researchers and to those on temporary contracts. In these groups the median of importance for open access is also 7.

Feel free to verify my findings. Data behind our survey are open.

For more O&A comic stripes have a look here.

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