In the last week or so I have had two very interesting email exchanges with academics here at the OU around the topic of depositing full text versions of their work in ORO, i.e. making their publications available Open Access. In both cases, I had noticed that the persons concerned had recently published journal papers, and so I emailed requesting that they deposit copies of their articles in ORO, explaining in five simple steps how this can be done in a matter of seconds using the DOI import function – something I do on a regular basis, as many of you reading this blog will already know.
The first person replied to say that he fully supported Open Access to scholarly research, but on the flipside one must bear in mind that if all articles published by the journal in question were openly available then it would undoubtedly spell out the end for the journal’s existence, and he and his authors would loose their publishing outlet. (I’m very tempted at this point to outline a detailed response to this, but I’ll hold fire so as not to dilute the intended theme of this post).
The second person replied to say that he was very willing to deposit a record of his paper in ORO, but that he was concerned about “antagonising the Editors of the journal” by making a full text version of the article openly available, especially given that he had been so impressed by the efficiency of the editorial process. (Again, tempted though I am, I shall hold back on responding to this for the time being).
On the face of things, these two responses seem very similar; both expressing a certain concern for the journals (and thus the publishers) with which they placed their papers. However, upon reflection, I believe there to be a subtle but significant difference between the two, and one which perhaps provides an interesting insight into how academics’ concerns over Open Access might change depending on their seniority.
Let me explain…
The person who made the statement about Open Access possibly spelling out the end for his journal of choice is, I think it’s fair to say, at a more advanced stage of his research career than the person who was concerned about antagonising his journal’s Editors. Consequently, this person has published a lot of papers and clearly has a long history with the particular journal concerned. This, then – I believe – is concern fueled by loyalty. On the other hand, the younger, early-career researcher, is perhaps still at a stage where publishing with a reputable and ‘high impact’ journal is an overwhelming priority, and thus doing anything that might (as he put it) antagonise the Editors would be tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot. This, then, is concern fueled by apprehension.
So, when thinking about barriers for Open Access from the point of view of the depositing author (note: I am talking specifically about open access archiving in repositories here, not open access publishing), then perhaps there exists this spectrum of concern, ranging from apprehension in the younger researcher at one end to loyalty in the experienced academic at the other. If this is true, then surely there must be a midpoint where authors are neither fearful of nor loyal to their publishers! Perhaps these are the people we should be targeting to embrace Open Access!
I should probably now go on to outline my response to the concerns about Open Access raised by the two individuals mentioned above, but at the risk of turning this post into a thesis I think I’d better do that under a separate heading in the coming days…