14 August 2015

Nature survey finds attitudes towards open access are changing

(NPG), Nature Publishing Group (2015): Author Insights 2015 survey. figshare.http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1425362
Each year Nature Publishing Group and Palgrave Macmillan conduct an Author Insights Survey, the aim of which is to track changes in behaviours and attitudes towards publishing. The survey, which was published under a CC BY licence on Figshare, is available here: http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1425362.

Overall the survey found that attitudes towards open access are softening, but there is still a lot of misunderstanding about funder open access policies.

(NPG), Nature Publishing Group (2015): Author Insights 2015 survey. figshare.http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1425362

Question 9: Reasons for not publishing OA?
The survey asked authors who had chosen not to publish OA in the past 3 years to provide their reasons for not doing so. The most common reason for deciding against OA (totalling 27% of the answers) was fear about the perceived quality of open access papers. Although this is perhaps alarming, it is actually a reduction from the previous year’s survey which saw 40% of respondents give this reason. In humanities and social sciences the drop in respondents choosing this option was from 54% in 2014 to 41% in this year’s survey. So overall this represents good news as it demonstrates that perceptions of quality are becoming less of an issue. It is also interesting to note that around the same number of respondents choose the option “I am not willing to pay an APC”. This answer too has seen a reduction year on year, from around 30% to 25% for STEM and 52% to around 42% for HSS.

(NPG), Nature Publishing Group (2015): Author Insights 2015 survey. figshare.http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1425362

Question 8: Understanding funder requirements.
25% of respondents said they didn’t know their funder’s open access requirements (20% in STEM disciplines, and 30% in Humanities and Social Sciences). Interestingly, around 23% of respondents thought their funder demanded authors publish the final published version either with an embargo or immediately via open access. In our experience funders require at the very least the accepted version, and none stipulate the final published version only. A further 6% thought their funder demanded the pre-peer review version. Again, this seems unlikely. So, what this indicates is that in all probability more than half of the respondents did not know their funder’s requirements for open access. Also interesting to note is that around 40% of those who reported that their funder required immediate OA also admitted they had not published open access.

Nature/Palgrave admit themselves that the survey is not an "academically rigorous study" nor is it particularly comprehensive. What it does highlight are general attitudes and trends. We have picked out two questions that produced particularly pertinent results. What the results of these two questions show is that overall attitudes towards open access are improving, but there are still misunderstandings about how funding bodies fit in, and what, if any, mandates for open access exist.

In a Nature Publishing Group press release Dan Penny, Head of Insights at NPG and Palgrave Macmillan said:
"Perceptions are likely to change over time as more open access publications establish strong reputations, funders mandate open access, and authors publish their best research in OA journals. Last year in particular saw a significant improvement in attitudes." (Nature Publishing Group, 2015, http://www.nature.com/press_releases/perceptions-open-access.html)
If any authors would like more information about funder open access policies, or would like any other advice about open access publishing, as ever the Open Access and Repository Publications Support team is here to help - email us at open-access-support@st-andrews.ac.uk. We also have a webpage detailing relevant funding bodies with open access policies.

The survey was published with a CC BY creative commons licence on Figshare here: http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1425362

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