Magazine article Information Today

Reports on Access to Research

Magazine article Information Today

Reports on Access to Research

Article excerpt

In recent months, several studies have been released about scholarly communication and open access (OA). Since these reports aspire to improve evidence for the need for, adoption of, and market for OA, it's helpful to summarize some of the key results from two different sources: the SOAP (Study of Open Access Publishing) project and the Publishing Research Consortium report.

For starters, the 2-year SOAP project, which concluded at the end of February, was coordinated by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The consortium members include publishers (BioMed Central Ltd., Sage Publications Ltd., and Springer Science+Business Media); funding agencies (Science and Technology Facilities Council); libraries (Max Planck Digital Library of the Max Planck Society); and a broad spectrum of research disciplines. The three-phase study describes its mission as one that "aims to study the new open access business models that have emerged as a result of the shift from print to digital documents and inform the European Commission and all stakeholders about the risks, opportunities and essential requirements for a smooth transition to open access publishing." The project is financed by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme.

OA Publishing Offerings

Phase 1 of the study was devoted to analyzing current OA publishing solutions and the corresponding business models. The aim was to gain better insight into these solutions to measure, to assess the success of the various models, and to analyze the differences and similarities between the models. In short, the first phase presents the offerings for OA publishing today. Phase 2 aims to assess the demand for OA publishing by a large-scale survey of scientists across disciplines worldwide.

The second phase was partially released this past summer, along with the results of the first phase.

Phase 2 of the study, which is still a work in progress, is particularly interesting. Researchers received 23 questions via SurveyMonkey, and the survey was live for 3 months, according to CERN's Salvatore Mele, who spoke at the Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing last August in Prague. The survey was sent to an estimated 1.5 million people, so a percentage of the response cannot be generated at this time. However, the survey attracted 53,916 respondents so far, and only 19% of those respondents had not published any articles.

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However, 43,672 published researchers, even if it can be statistically isolated, are still a lot of researchers. SOAP divided them into 19 general subject areas (i.e., Historical and Philosophical Studies). Demographically, there was a worldwide distribution; 54% had published between one and five OA journal articles.

But one question remained: "Would OAjournals be beneficial to you?" Of the published researchers, 89% said yes, with the top two reasons given being for improved scholarly communication (32%) and to accelerate science (27%), followed by accessibility (19%) and universal access (17%). The countries that believed that OA journals would be the most beneficial included Iran (18%), Poland (16%), and Russia (13%); the countries that believed it would be least beneficial were the U.K. (7%), Denmark (6.2%), and Australia (6%). Language and Literature had the highest response of the disciplines that believed that OA journals would be the most useful, followed by Mass Communication and Education (93%). …

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