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The unknown land of treasures – gold open access books

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In the case of books, authors from the global peripheral countries are more likely to choose gold open access as a way to publish their research results. While in the global core countries only 21.5% of book authors have at least one gold open access position in his/her portfolio, this is as much as 39.1% in the global periphery.

316 respondents of the Key Challenges of Research Communication De Gruyter Open Survey published an academic book (monograph, textbook, or edited volume) in the last 3 years. This is as much as 35.1% for recent authors of any scholarly content that responded to our survey. What is even more striking, a further 43% of academic authors think it is “very possible” or “quite possible” that they will publish an academic book in the next 5 years. We can therefore conclude that 78.1% of active academic authors that answered our survey are actual or potential book authors. This is more evidence that too little attention is paid to forms of academic output other than journal articles in current discussions about research communication.

Of course, there are big differences here between various fields of research. Researchers from the fields of humanities and the social sciences publish books much more often than the others. However, in STEM fields books remain important, since one fourth of all academic authors working in this field authored 1 or more books in the last 3 years.

GOLD_OA_BOOKS_1

When it comes to open access as a mode of publishing books, 94 of our respondents published at least 1 gold open access book in the last 3 years. Here I am talking about any book that is available openly on a publisher’s website (for more information about green open access and gold open access have a look here). These 94 scholars with at least 1 gold open access book published recently are 10.4% of all academic authors, and 29.7% of the book authors in our sample. We may therefore say that, while there are significantly less researchers who published gold OA books than those who published gold OA papers or book chapters, the discussed group still seems to be quite numerous.

17.1% of all books published in last 3 years by our respondents are free on a publisher’s website. 15.8% of all book authors published all of their recent books in gold OA. And the top 5% of authors of gold open access books published 21.7% of all books of this kind.

GOLD_OA_BOOKS2

Disciplinary differences show an interesting pattern, similar to what that we already know from the situation with book chapters. While researchers in the field of science, engineering and mathematics publish books less often than those in humanities and social sciences, when they do so, they are more likely to employ open access publishers. As a result, almost half of all book authors in the ‘hard sciences’ have at least 1 gold open access book in their portfolio.

Authors from the global periphery are more open

There is a general, monotonic, negative correlation between GDP per capita in a researchers’ country of residence, and a share of open access works in all books (s)he published (Spearman -0.22). This means that the poorer a country where an author is based is, the bigger share of his or her books are published this way (however this correlation is weak).

However, when we divide countries into two groups, the global core and the global periphery, we will clearly see that, as in the case of all other forms of research output, and also in the case of books, authors from the global peripheral countries are more likely to choose gold open access as a way to publish their research results. While in the global core countries only 21.5% of book authors has at least one gold OA position in his/her portfolio, this is as much as 39.1% in the global periphery. (GDP per capita of 20,000 USD was chosen to be a line of division between the core and the peripheral countries, the reason for choosing this value was discussed here).

Interestingly there is a positive correlation between the share of gold open access book chapters among all book chapters published by an author, and the share of gold open access books among all his/her books (Spearman 0.44). This means that authors who publish more of their book chapters in gold open access are also more likely to publish whole books this way, and the other way round. In fact this correlation is visible mostly among authors from the global periphery (where it reaches the value of 0.51), being quite weak in the core countries (0.27).

Maybe we will understand these correlations analyzing factors for choosing a book publisher in the context of global diversity. I will try to do this in my next posts.

What triggers the preference of authors from less wealthy countries to publish in gold open access, which is visible for all the forms of research output? This is still unclear to me, and it seems to be the most interesting point that I discovered in the analysis of our survey results. I hope to find some more evidence to solve this crux in further analysis.

Stay tuned. And feel free to verify my findings. The data behind this post are open.

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