Awareness and Attitude of Spanish Medical Authors to Open Access Publishing and the "Author Pays" Model*

By Hernández-Borges, Angel A.; Cabrera-Rodríguez, Raúl et al. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, October 2006 | Go to article overview
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Awareness and Attitude of Spanish Medical Authors to Open Access Publishing and the "Author Pays" Model*


Hernández-Borges, Angel A., Cabrera-Rodríguez, Raúl, Montesdeoca-Melián, Abián, Martínez-Pineda, Begoña, et al., Journal of the Medical Library Association


INTRODUCTION

Open access publishing (OAP) aims to provide complete and free electronic access to scientific research articles [1]. Such access may be achieved via (1) open access journals (i.e., journals permitting free access to online content), currently around 2% of the total corpus of articles in science, technology, and medicine [2]; or (2) self-archiving on institutional or personal Websites, which provides free access to post- or preprint manuscripts. In addition to universal access to scientific knowledge, the OAP model may result in considerable savings for libraries [3] and the potential benefit for authors of greater exposure to their works. However, to date, citations to OA journals have only slightly increased compared to subscription-based journals [4].

With respect to funding, nearly 20% of OAP articles have been produced by charging authors (or indirectly, their organizations) through so-called "publication fees" or "author fees" [2]. The success of such journals greatly depends on authors' willingness to submit their research to such journals despite publication fees ranging between $350 and $1,000 USD. It is unclear whether authors, especially first-time and social science authors, are reluctant to back OAP journals because the journals are not considered sufficiently prestigious or because the authors consider the costs involved too high [5, 6]. Moreover, the "author pays" model also poses a significant financial obstacle for researchers or their institutions in low-income countries [7]. Certain OAP journals discretionally waive charges to such researchers.

Little is known about how this model, first introduced in English-speaking countries, will be adopted in a country as culturally different as Spain. This research sought to evaluate the extent of familiarity with OAP of biomedical authors who publish in Spanish and their attitudes toward the author-pays model.

METHODS

Subjects

The investigators selected the first authors of Spanish-language articles (with the exception of letters) appearing in PubMed between June and December 2003. To locate authors, the researchers used the following search syntax: ("com"[ad] OR "es"[ad] OR "org"[ad]) NOT ktierlpt] AND SpanisMLang] AND ("2003/06/ 01"[EDAT]: "2003/12/31"[EDAT]), where "es" represents a specific email domain for Spain. Most Spanish authors' email addresses would be collected using ".com," ".es," and "org." The investigators excluded those authors who did not provide an email address and sifted the original list of 716 entries found in PubMed, eliminating duplications and authors not residing in Spain. This process resulted in a final list of 354 authors. Authors were classified according to (1) type of institution (university, university hospital, nonuniversity hospital, or government institution), (2) residential Spanish region, and (3) medical speciality.

Instrument

This research employed an author-elaborated nineitem questionnaire (supplemental appendix online). Item relevance and face validity were established by consensus among the researchers. Between February and May 2004, the questionnaire was emailed thrice by individual emailings to avoid spam-blocking systems. Despite this precaution, 14% of emails were automatically rejected. All responses received before June 15, 2004, were analyzed.

Statistical analysis

To determine whether responding authors were representative of the global sample initially selected, the team compared the following demographic and publication variables: province of residence, institution type, biomedical speciality, existence of an online edition of the journal in which articles were published, and publication of other articles during the same period.

The investigators then studied the association between author responses and medical speciality, type of institution, and region of residence. All comparisons were performed using Pearson's chi-square test.

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