I’ve recently heard of three general areas of concern about Open Access (OA) from more senior colleagues:
- There are lots of poor quality open access journals out there and some of them are no more than money scams
- I can’t see the value of open access because my papers are instantly available to other researchers in my discipline around the world.
- I don’t agree with paying for open access when we can make papers available through LRA [Leicester Research Archive, our Open Access repository]
Point 1 seems to be tied into quality control and reputation and we should as a university be good at critical evaluation of journals since academic rigour should be de rigueur. While there are some scams, (and Beall’s List of Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers examines many in their own way) there are many good journals. Why would the existence of some bad journals mean we would avoid all journals (OA or not)? Traditional journals of good standing now need to offer Green or Hybrid paths to OA so authors can remain compliant with their funders and employers. There are also pure OA journals of good reputation over many years – ask your colleagues. We are happy to advise on choosing a publication strategy including avoiding problematic journals. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists 9707 journals at last check, so there are plenty to navigate, though not all cover all subjects of course.
For point 2 there are a few supplemental questions (as well as compliance requirements):
Are your publications Open Access? Just because you can see them that may be because we pay for a journal subscription. Not everyone does, or can pay, especially in developing / majority world countries or independent researchers, business, governments etc.
Will people find your work? We put out high quality metadata. This helps generic and specialist search engines present your work when relevant. There are many papers published each minute and I think researcher searching and browsing is to a large extent mediated by machines. We can help your work to be found.
Will your work be preserved? We curate and preserve research long-term. There are many other ways of sharing work but will they continue to do so?
I agree that it is extra work to send work to more than one place. Automated brokerage will help but that isn’t working large scale yet. As soon as we can make your life easier we will; but really: is a few seconds extra of your time per-paper that unreasonable compared to other administrative demands?
I’m not sure point 3 is a sticking point to OA in general, just the Article Processing Charge (APC) route to it. We leave it entirely up to researchers where and how they publish. If you prefer the Green route for political, practical or any other reason then please do go ahead with that route. If you want to choose Gold, we can help with that too. If you are weighing up your options we are happy to offer neutral advice.