The results of the Key Challenges of Research Communication De Gruyter Open Author Survey suggest that gold open access to academic book chapters is far from being a marginal phenomenon, despite its absence in the debate on open access. Similarly to the case of academic articles, gold open access is more popular among researchers from the global periphery, however the disciplinary differences are shaped here by a totally different pattern.
The dominant voice in discussion on open access (OA) comes from the community of life scientists, who welcomed the success of numerous open access journals in the recent decade. These success and the business model that lay behind them shaped the whole public debate on open access. However, neither research communication nor open access ends on journal publishing. Monographs and edited volumes remain important in numerous disciplines. Even in those fields of research that have been dominated by research papers, some books are still able to make a big impact.
Therefore, in our author survey, we decided to examine the state of open access to both edited volumes and monographs. Today I would like to focus on the problem of book chapters published by our respondents in edited volumes, that were made free on a publisher’s website. This form of open access to academic book chapters is organized by publishers, in contrast to self-archiving practices managed by authors. I will call this phenomenon “gold open access to academic book chapters” (per analogia to the gold and green division that is well accepted in the case of academic papers).
Half of academic authors published a book chapter in last 3 years
Our results suggest that gold open access to academic book chapters is far from being a marginal phenomenon, despite its absence in the debate on open access. Similarly, in the case of academic articles, gold open access is more popular among researchers from the global periphery, however the disciplinary differences are shaped here by a totally different pattern.
50.5% of all academic authors in our sample published at least one academic book chapter in the last 3 years (toll access or an open one). It comes as no surprise that communicating research output in this form is more popular among representatives of Humanities and Social Sciences.
39.6% of all authors who published book chapters recently, published at least one that was free to read on a publisher’s website. This share is significantly smaller than in the case of academic papers (74.6% of article authors’ published at least one paper in gold open access recently), but this is still a quite surprising outcome for me.
24.9% of all academic book chapters that were published in last 3 years by our respondents were published in gold open access. However, gold OA book chapters are more concentrated among a small number of authors than gold OA papers. The distribution of the gold open access chapters share has both a higher kurtosis and higher skewness than the distribution of gold OA articles. The top 5% of gold OA book chapter authors published 33.7% of all works of this kind in our sample.
There is no significant correlation between the share of gold OA papers in all papers published by an individual author, and a share of gold OA book chapters in all book chapters published by him or her (Spearman rho 0.11). Therefore we may assume that different sets of factors foster the choosing of open access in the case of journal articles and in the case of book chapters.
The global periphery also prefer open access in this case
Interestingly, there is a weak, negative correlation with GDP per capita in a country where a researcher is based. So, the wealthier a country where a researcher works is, the smaller share of her/his book chapters is published in gold open access (Spearman -0.24). When we look at the division between the core countries and the peripheral countries, we can easily spot that book chapter authors in the periphery more often have at least one open access chapter in their portfolio (48.8%) than their colleagues from the global core (31.4%). What is more, the top 25% of gold OA book chapters authors in the core countries have 33.3% or more of their chapters published in gold OA, while for the peripheral countries it is as much as 50% or more.
Disciplinary differences show a quite interesting pattern. Gold open access to book chapters is relatively more popular in Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering. Scientists rarely publish book chapters, but when they do so, they are more likely to publish them in open access than humanists.
It is hard to say anything about the influence of career level on choosing to publish chapters in gold open access, since in our sample there are a few students that published any kind of book chapter. However, there is no big difference between Early Careers and Established Researchers with regard to the probability of choosing gold open access as a way of publishing a book chapter.
Neither working conditions nor publishing output influence the chances of choosing gold open access by book chapter authors.