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Obstacles to the popularization of OA according to the OAPEN-UK survey

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In our previous post, we mentioned the importance of the OAPEN-UK project, which aims to explore the impact of Open Access on the humanities and social sciences. Among the key elements of this project, we find a survey covering issues such as attitudes toward OA publishing and Creative Commons licensing, as well as researchers’ preferences and priorities (both as authors and as readers). While focusing primarily on researchers from the UK, this survey provides some particularly interesting results, which deserve a closer look.

The respondents of the survey consisted of 690 researchers – comprising of 26.5% PhD students, 20.3% Professors, 18.1% Assistant Professors, 14.6% Associate Professors, 10.3% Postdocs and 5.7% researchers outside academia. Overall, 60% of respondents represented the humanities, while 38% of them were grouped under the social sciences. Now, by focusing on data regarding selected publishing issues, one can already extract some useful information.

Among the more interesting results from this survey, it appears that almost 54% of respondents are aware of Open Access and another 39% are already familiar with the publishing model, while only the remaining 7% have never heard of it. However, it should be noted that even though OA can often provide young researchers with greater visibility and recognition, almost 15% of PhD students have never even heard of Open Access.

The data concerning the acceptability of publishing profit reveals an interesting cross-section of opinions. The acceptance level appears to be similar for both Open Access and traditional publishing – the majority of respondents believe that it is acceptable to make a profit (if the benefits go back into supporting the discipline or making more OA content available), while 20% of them believe that profits should only cover publishing costs. Since only 3-4% claimed to have a problem with the idea of anyone making profit from OA publishing, we can advance that there is a general consensus on this matter.

Other interesting pieces of information may be found in the data on the availability and use of OA funds. The vast majority of respondents were not even aware of the possibility to apply for such funding. As for those who were aware of these opportunities, most of them applied for funds from the Research Council grant.

There is also an important conclusion to be drawn from this data for OA publishers. The fact that 83% of respondents were unaware that publishers offered funds may indicate a lack of promotion. In any case, it can be said that authors remain generally uninformed regarding available funds for OA publishing.

Moreover, it is interesting to note that most authors still do not publish in the OA model, regardless of whether their writings are filed under the humanities or the social sciences. In fact, when it comes to authors of monographs, up to 85% of them decided not to publish in Open Access.

It is also worth mentioning that according to this research, the effect of OA on scholarly communications goals looks to be very positive:

“quality and reputation & reward will be neutral, and organization and preservation will be positive”

To summarize, this survey reveals that while an overwhelming number of researchers are already aware of Open Access, the same cannot be said of their knowledge of funds available for OA publishing. Added to the fact that authors generally seem to remain reluctant to publish in the OA model, it indicates that there is a lot of work still to be done in order to convince the scientific community of the benefits of Open Access publishing.

The results of the survey can be found here.



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