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Unsolved problem – green open access to academic book chapters

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We, the open access promoters, have been focused primarily on academic papers. As a result, we still have a lot of work in promoting open access to other forms of academic output.

As I concluded in my previous posts, according to the results of the Key Challenges of Research Communication De Gruyter Open Author Survey, green open access in the case of academic papers is driven mostly by ethical beliefs of their authors. Now we can see that things look similar in the case of green open access to book chapters. According to the survey, among 99 authors of toll access book chapters who have self-archived at least 1 work of this kind in green OA, 55.5% did it mostly because they believe that the general public should have access to research.

The second most numerous group (24.2%) did it primarily in order to promote their work. A further 10.1% to get more citations and 5% did it because they believe it helps low income countries. Another 5% archived their works mostly as a result of external pressure (OA policies and expectation of supervisors etc.).

We may therefore say that 60.5% of our respondents who published a book chapter in green OA recently, did it mostly because of their ethical beliefs, while 39.5% were motivated by more practical reasoning. The whole structure of motivations seem here to be similar than in the case of self archiving of academic papers, which explains why there is a positive correlation between likelihood to archive a paper and a book chapter. If green open access depends on mostly ethical reasoning, it seems quite logical that people who believe that it is fair to archive a green OA copy of a paper will have a similar conviction concerning book chapters. However, there is an important factor that decreases the number of green OA book chapters.

Among the 291 authors of toll access book chapters who did not archive any of them, 20 failed to provide a main reason for not doing so, though 46.8% of the rest stated that they were not allowed to by a publisher. It contrasts with “only” 27.4% of respondents who choose it as a main reason for not opening an academic paper. This probably reflects the fact that publishers indeed usually do not have  green OA policies concerning books and book chapters, while they are the norm in the case of journals.

19.9% of authors of chapters did not know that there is a possibility to archive copies of their works in open access (it was 29.6% in the case of authors of academic papers). 17.7% said that they did not have time to do it. Only 4.7% claimed that open access is not important to them. As much as 10.7% gave other answers that usually expressed confusion and misunderstandings about green open access.

It seems to me that we, the open access promoters, have been focused too much on academic papers. As a result we still have a lot of work in promoting open access to other forms of academic output. In the case of book chapters, which are still quite popular not only in HSS, but also to some extent in the so called ‘hard sciences’, there are no systematic solutions either for green or for gold routes to OA. While gold open access might be introduced here by publishers, (when only appropriate funding is ensured), green open access needs both change in publishers policies and the active participation of academic authors (or mandates from funders). Our research has shown that the vast majority of academic authors accept ethical principles of openness, which might be seen as a good prognosis for green OA. But legal complexity of copyright and heterogeneous policies of publishers toward self-archiving make the whole thing more complicated.

Feel free to verify my findings. The data from our survey is open!

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  1. In your final paragraph, you leave the impression that all or most gold OA is fee-based. That’s untrue, and in fact the reverse is true. Most is no-fee. [ ] In the same paragraph, you leave the impression that green OA always depends on publisher permission .That is also untrue. The largest family of exceptions are rights-retention green OA policies, like those at Harvard, MIT, Kansas, California, and so on. For details on how these work, see the guide to good practices for university OA policies, [ ].

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      You are pointing out things which have been discussed several times on this blog. It is hard to mention everything in every post. Of course, you are right, when it comes to popularity of APCs. The research which was discussed in this post also brought some evidence about fee based open access and distribution of fees among authors of academic articles, which was already described here:

      I will write more about popularity of publication charges on OA books market in the beginning of the next week.

      However, despite the fact that a lot of journals and book series, especially in HSS, operates without author side fees, each of them need some kind of funding. There are various funding models, which have been discussed e.g. here:

      Albeit, the basic fact, that gold open access without appropriate funding model is not possible, remains the truth and I cannot see anything wrong in stressing this fact.

      When it comes to green OA, this is also true that green OA mandates might be seen as good tool to enforce open access regardless policies of publishers. However, in this post I have been discussing the results of the survey, which has shown little effect of OA mandates on behaviours of respondents.

      Majority of our respondents did not publish anything in green OA. In case of book chapters they identified policies of publishers as a main reason of this fact. So the conclusion that caused your impression is the conclusion from the data. The data might look like this because of various reasons. One is that on the global scale authors that undergo green OA mandates are still a small minority.

  2. I’m sorry to say that you missed both my points. (1) I completely agree that OA journals need adequate funding. But we can say that, even emphasize that, without leaving the false impression that all or most OA journals charge author-side fees. (2) Whatever we think about green OA mandates, we can speak with care and make our claims without leaving the false impression that green OA always depends on permission from publishers.

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