#Openaccess publishing for academics in Russell Group Universities–#oer14 Conference Abstract

15 01 2014

Here is an abstract accepted for the Open Educational Resources 2014 conference: Building communities of open practice. This is one part of my PhD thesis which study scholarly communication and open science practice using mixed-methods. This paper reports findings from an internet survey conducted in summer 2013.
Open Access PLoS
Title: Open Access publishing for academics in Russell Group Universities: A 2013 survey report

Introduction: Scholarly publishing has changed its format since the emergence of internet and new technologies such as open source software and public copyright licenses. More and more academic papers are accessible freely via open-access journals (Gold OA) and open-access repositories (Green OA). What kind of experiences have UK based academics had with Gold and Green OA publishing? To what extent do academics acknowledge the importance of OA publishing and to what extent are they aware of RCUK policy on Open Access to research outputs?

Methods: We conducted an internet survey with 1829 academics from 12 Russell Group universities between June – July 2013. Compared to the data sourced from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA, 2013), our sample of UK academics was broadly representative of the UK academic population in research intensive universities as defined by our primary demographic variables of gender, discipline areas and age. The survey data were coded in Excel and analysed in SPSS by descriptive statistics.

Results: The vast majority of respondents (93%) agreed with the principle of making knowledge freely to everyone and 42% were aware of RCUK policy on Open Access to the outputs of RCUK-funded research. Of the respondents who had publishing experiences, 41% had published in open access journals by Gold OA route and 43% had deposited papers online by Green OA route, which makes over 60% of them have had experience with at least one of the OA publishing route. Respondents with Gold OA publishing experience were more likely to be in Medical, Biological and Human sciences, male, older, more experienced and in higher grades. Respondents with Green OA publishing experience were more likely to be in Natural science and Engineering, male, older, more experienced and in higher grades.

Discussion: Older, more experienced and respondents in higher grades would have more experience with applying for research grant and get to know research councils’ OA policy, thus more likely to have had experience with OA publishing. Gold OA model was more established in biomedical sciences and Gold OA journals such as PlusOne, has very good reputation in biomedical sciences. Academics in Natural science and Engineering were more likely to have Green OA experience because in disciplines such as Mathematical Sciences and Physics, a preprint repository called ArXiv had been commonly used as a resource for searching for information and depositing research articles. Gender inequality was found in this study as women were less likely to have permanent jobs, high grades and being assessed in the 2014 REF. One respondent suggested that women ‘tend to use new technologies to a lesser extent (or have slower take up)’, which may explain the gender divide in OA publishing that men were more likely to experience new publishing model. However this current study also found that women were more likely to use social media tools to promote their recent publication. Further research should be carried out to explore the reason behind this contradiction.


HESA. (2013). Higher Education Statistics for the United Kingdom 2011/12 [Online]. Available: http://www.hesa.ac.uk/ [Accessed 21 September 2013].