Astrid Bovell on October 19th, 2012
(by Astrid AND Wil 🙂 )
The Forum yesterday brought up some interesting discussions.
It certainly seemed to be the case that no one felt negatively about Open Access. Everyone was very supportive of the idea of sharing research and talked about their reasons for making their work available for Open Access – mostly it seemed to be (naturally) that researchers want to give their work a good reach – get it out there, get the community to know about it and then in turn, the positive note of helping to spread knowledge, and to help research in a general sense move forward at a greater pace. Interestingly for some researchers, this also dawned from experience as a student desperately trying to find out about new research. Not from a point of view as a student to use material without using the final published copy, but to be able to be aware of research as soon as it’s released, rather than waiting for the publishing process – which takes time – to later release the material and also to help point them to published articles that DID have the content they were looking for.
An interesting point brought up was that young Academics face the dilemma of wanting to share your research as widely as possible to get yourself known amongst the wider community, yet significant recognition often comes with being published in big name peer reviewed journals (which is exactly why the University encourages publishing through those avenues)… and if that big name peer reviewed journal demands an exclusive publishing licence for your material, then you are stuck in the bind of needing to embargo the release of your research until you know what rights the publisher will allow. A point that has been frequently raised for discussion with our office after our recent Copyright, Your Thesis and Future Publications webinar.
Along similar lines (although I don’t believe this issue was raised during the forum) we’ve also been having discussions about third party material used in your research. In many cases permission is required from third parties to include their material in your published work and requesting permission takes time (which you may not have much of leading up to your deadline). You could remove the material of course, but what if removing the third party material has a negative affect on the integrity of your research? Holding back on making your research available on Open Access can give you the opportunity to take your time in seeking permission to publish your research with the third party material included.
Some other issues that came up were more focused on how we can work towards making more research available on Open Access, rather than why we should or shouldn’t.
James McClusky brought up some food for thought by drawing our attention to the reality that moving to Open Access still requires a solid business plan. Yes we can pay to make articles available for Open Access from the larger journals… but at the end of the day, it’s likely that the University will still be paying significant subscription fees to journals. Spending that money on journals as well as significant fees to make published articles available for Open Access is not a sustainable model and we should therefore exercise caution regardless of which approach we take.
While some discussion centred around the Green and Gold models of Open Access that many publishers allow, the point was raised that there are other formats – such as publishing through not-for-profit journals which request a very moderate fee that are worth considering. Responses were that the not-for-profit model does indeed exist and is on the rise and definitely has the potential to be a threat to the traditional publishers’ business models, but there are still issues surrounding recognition and reputation that continue to draw academics to the traditional publishers.
On a closing note for this post, it was interesting for us to hear some staff being unsure about whether their published work was able to made available for Open Access on the repository as a pre-print or post-print version and uncertain as to how to find out. If this is something you’re interested in, talk to the University’s Repository Team. They are well versed in checking publisher guidelines and policy and can help advise you on what version can be uploaded.
Discussions surrounding Open Access happening within the community of academics and researchers in Australia comes at an auspicious time when the rest of the world seems to be responding to similar economic factors. Harnessing this enthusiasm will help us adopt an approach that will ensure success for young researchers and bring about the public’s greater understanding of scientific research.