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Open access more popular in principle than in practice

Open access more popular in principle than in practice

In a recent survey of UK researchers, 93% of respondents said that they considered open access to be important, but only 41% had published an open access article themselves. Researchers aged under 35 were less likely to have done so than their older peers.

The survey, which was published in the journal Scientometrics and discussed in a blog post on Nature Index, was carried out by Yimei Zhu during her PhD. Zhu sent the survey to 42,000 members of twelve UK-based universities in June 2013, and received just over 1,800 responses. In addition to the 41% of respondents who had published in a fully open access journal or who had paid for open access in a hybrid journal – so-called gold open access – a further 21% had used green open access channels. In green open access researchers make their articles freely available online, in repositories such as PubMed Central or BioRxiv, or on their own or their institution’s website. There is no charge for green open access, but articles may be subject to restrictions and embargoes from the journal that has accepted the manuscript for publication.

Younger researchers and graduate students were less likely to have published under either green or gold open access than their more senior colleagues, although the former groups will also presumably have published fewer articles overall. Zhu believes that younger researchers may be particularly deterred by the fees associated with gold open access. Just over a quarter of respondents of all ages were unaware of open access repositories, suggesting that additional education is needed on the options available to researchers.


Summary by Louisa Lyon, DPhil from Aspire Scientific

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