Brussels, 07 Nov 2005
More and more scientists are publishing in open access journals, according to a study by CIBER, an independent publishing think tank based at City University in London, the UK.
Some 29 per cent of the senior authors questioned claimed that they have published in an open access journal - an increase of eighteen percentage points since 2004, when CIBER carried out a similar study. This two-and-a-half fold increase in just 12 months suggests rapid acceptance of open access publishing within the research community.
The increase is likely to be driven by a greater awareness of open access. The authors found that there has been a large rise in the number of authors who know 'quite a lot' about open access (up ten percentage points from the 2004 figure), and a big fall in authors knowing 'nothing at all' about the subject (down 25 points).
Altogether, 81 per cent of authors claim to have some awareness of open access - up from 66 per cent in 2004.
The study also found that senior authors and researchers believe downloads to be a more credible measure of an article's usefulness than the more traditional citations.
A range of cost issues were addressed by the survey, from the cost of journals themselves, to funding open access. The authors note a 'Jekyll and Hyde' approach to journal prices by many researchers. While a number of respondents agreed with the following statements: 'high journal prices make it difficult to access literature' and 'as an author, I deliberately publish journals that are affordable to readers', only one in five agreed with both statements.
The study found little evidence of enthusiasm for either the author or the reader paying a fee in order to fund open access publishing, and many expressed the opinion that libraries should not have to make such a large contribution to the costs of the journals system as they do at the moment. The favoured options were that the burden should be borne by research funders, commercial sponsors or central government (in that order of preference).
The report makes worrying reading for libraries. The convenience and speed of electronic tools have made the presence of a physical library less important for many. Indeed, libraries were ranked 11th out of 12 for information discovery and retrieval. 'Clearly, libraries need to consider their position and their visibility in a digital world where their users are increasingly removed from them and not even conscious that it is they who are paying the access bills,' state the authors.