Some academics are still sometimes concerned that publishing in an Open Access journal may not have the same kudos as a subscription journal with a high impact factor. But now, following Willets’ speech to the publishers last week, there is speculation that the Research Councils will consider making open access part of the “excellence criteria for qualifying articles” for REF post-2014. (See article in THES)
Of course, following the “Gold Route” (i.e. author pays model), we can see that often these open access journals can have high impact factors and the fact that they are freely available may increase the number of citations to articles. Journal Impact Factors are, after all, based upon the number of citations to articles published by a journal. The BiomedCentral stable of journals are all building good reputations and impact factors.
And, if authors follow the “Green Route” (self-archiving in an institutional or subject repository), they can publish in a subscription journal but still make their research outputs publicly available so long as they do so within the terms set by the publisher – or negotiated between the author and publisher.
David Willetts, in a speech to the Publishers’ Association yesterday, set out the Coalition’s commitment to free Open Access to publicly funded UK research outputs. He acknowledged the role of publishers in scholarly communication and said that he wanted to work with them. Not only is there a need for public access to publicly funded research, he said, but there is also a need to make it more discoverable and to assist “networking between researchers and SMEs”. To this end, he said, Research Councils in the UK “are now investing £2 million in the development of a UK ‘Gateway to Research’ portal. Jimmy Wales has been asked to advise on the creation of this portal, which it is intended “will enable users to establish who has received funding and for what research [and] provide direct links to actual research outputs such as data sets and publications”.
Read Willetts’ article in the Guardian
This is an ongoing debate which is getting a lot of attention right now. We have already seen articles about the “Academic Spring” in the Guardian and now the same newspaper has published an article in which it says that Harvard University ” wants scientists to make their research open access and resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls”.
The National Institute for Health (USA) Public Access Policy requires that all research funded by them must be made publicly available “no later than 12 months after the official date of publication”. In the UK, the Research Councils are “committed to the guiding principles that publicly funded research must be made available to the public and remain accessible for future generations” and recently produced for consultation a revised draft of their OA policy which goes much further than the original. The Medical Research Council claim to be “champions of open access publishing”.
So how does Open Access work? Will it be the author-pays-for-publication model or self-archiving in institutional of subject-based open access repositories? If we move towards OA, what is the future for scholarly communication in general?
If you want to know more about Open Access in the UK, the JISC have a useful web page, and the RIN (Research Information Network) have published a report (Heading for the open road: costs and benefits of transitions in scholarly communications) which sets the OA debate in the context of shcolarly journal publishing.
It is Open Access week. Researchers, librarians, publishers, and research funders are all talking about Open Access. By publishing your work in an OA repostitory or OA journal, you will make it more discoverable by other researchers. The more people read your work, the more likely it is to get cited by others and potentially increase its impact.
As part of OA week, R2RC have published a new guide to publishing for research students: Optimize Your Research
RIN have just published a new report (Heading for the open road: costs and benefits of transitions in scholarly communications) looking at ways to help develop free public access to academic research publications in the journal literature via open access publishing models and institutional or subject repositories.