Academics do not have deep understanding of OA

Survey into academics' beliefs and behaviours discussed at Internet Librarian International.

Lack of awareness

Academics do not have a very deep understanding of open access (OA) publishing, according to a study carried out by the University of Nottingham which was discussed at Internet Librarian International by Willow Fuchs of the University's Centre for Research Communications.

Chemists and economists at 11 UK institutions were surveyed to find out about their knowledge of OA, and to probe more deeply into why they do, or do not, make their work available on an OA basis. 130 responses were received.

The survey reveals a lack of awareness among certain respondents.

  • Only 64% of respondents were aware that their institutions had a repository - when in fact they all did.
  • 56% of respondents also said that their institutions did not have an OA mandate when in fact they did, suggesting that there is still some way to go to get academics' beliefs and behaviours aligned with institutional policy.

The survey also asked why academics might - or might not - make their work available on an OA basis. The top reason cited by respondents was 'because it improves accessibility to my work'. Citation advantage ranked in the middle, and the existence of mandates ranked at the bottom of respondents' answers.

When asked why they did not make work available as OA, the most popular responses were 'I need to publish in high impact journals' or 'it is too expensive' - both cases, as Willow Fuchs pointed out, indicating that they are thinking about OA in terms of journals rather than repositories.

Recommendations arising from the research include changing incentive frameworks so that making work OA is rewarded and ensuring funder participation so that OA policies are re-emphasised and enforced, as well as advocacy among academics and a more top-down approach from institutional policy makers.

The session slides and pointers to further resources can be found here.

Image by Gideon Burton via Flickr.