Academics’ perceptions on Open Access are improving.
One of the challenges Open Access publishing has been facing is a perceived lack of quality. The perception is so rampant that it casts a big shadow not only on Open Access journals but also on authors. It’s a very serious issue which held back many researchers from publishing their research output on fully Open Access journals. However, the research conducted to test changes in perceptions associated with Open Access quality revealed that opinions are shifting.
Two major scholarly publishers, the Nature Publishing Group and Palgrave Macmillan conducted a survey on 22,000 academic researchers. The result revealed remarkable improvement regarding the image of Open Access journals. This year, only 27 percent of the surveyed researchers still believe that Open Access publications do not meet quality standards. Last year it was 40 percent of those who participated in the survey who held the same belief. This is a significant shift in researchers’ opinion and perceptions of Open Access. These changes are not evenly distributed across fields, though. In the field of social sciences, business and humanities the gain is very astonishing; negative perception about Open Access journals dropped from 54 percent to 41 percent. Despite these improvements in reputation and the push from funders to publish Open Access, quality concerns are still the major factor keeping some researchers from publishing on Open Access journals.
What matters to authors
The survey highlighted another interesting point: the reasons why authors choose one journal over the other. According to this survey there are four major leading factors. First and foremost, it is the reputation of the journal. Relevance of the journal content is another point which influences authors’ decision about where to publish. Many authors also consider the quality of the peer review process before sending their manuscripts to publishers. Finally, journals’ impact factor and readership influences the decision of authors.
The Head of Insights at Nature Publishing Group and Palgrave Macmillan, Dan Penny, believes that the negative stigma attached to Open Access will fade away with time. Improving reputation of Open Access journals and funders mandate will apparently help improve perception of authors about Open Access journals.
Momentum for Open Access
Of course, improving the reputation, impact factor and even the peer review process of Open Access journals is not something that can be done overnight; it will take time. This is in part because most Open Access journals have not been in the business for more than a decade. But now there is a steady growth of journals and publishers entering the Open Access business. If this momentum is maintained, Open Access will definitely improve and eventually deliver what the scientific community and the general public expect from it.pen access, journals, reputation, impact, authors, reputation