Open Access at USFSP

The aim of the USFSP Open Access blog is to be a forum for discussion of open access (OA) and related issues, such as publishing, copyright, digital archives, and management of research data. This space is for members of our academic community to share their experiences, ask questions, and offer insights on these topics. I started this blog last month, as we observed International Open Access Week. I plan to post monthly, perhaps more often, as well as encourage meaningful dialogue and invite guest bloggers.

As a librarian, I often find myself in conversations about OA—explaining, advocating, and defending it. Most academic librarians I know are staunch supporters and active promoters of OA for research and research data. The ideal of OA is a natural fit with the core values and goals of our profession. But broad appeals for OA, based on our own values or what we perceive as potential benefits, aren’t always persuasive to scholars in other disciplines. And we understand that opportunities for OA are not equal for all fields.

Open access publishing has changed considerably over the last several years. The number and quality of OA journals have increased, as has their acceptance among scholars. Still, there is reluctance among many faculty researchers to publish in OA journals. Some express negative attitudes about OA journals or general skepticism of what they see as non-traditional publishing models. But the questions researchers ask me most often concerning OA publishing are about peer review, visibility, citation and metrics, and perceived quality of the journals. These are valid and practical concerns.

Many faculty colleagues have told me they support open access “in theory,” but are unwilling to submit to OA journals because they need assurance that their publications will be read widely and cited. They also worry that people who evaluate their work might see OA publications as second-rate (or worse). They question, for example, whether an OA publication will carry as much weight as “traditional” publications with tenure and promotion committees.

In the next post, I plan to discuss some of these practical issues, using an example of a successful model of OA publishing, the Public Library of Science (PLoS). If you have published in a PLoS journal or have experience with other OA publishers and journals, please share your experience. Also, please let me know of other issues of concern that we might discuss here.  Thank you.

Tony S. 11/30/2016