More on Open Access Publishing

Stephen Pincock | | March 27, 2013
Over the past 20 years, open-access publishing has become a major part of the scholarly landscape. It is now common in astronomy, maths and physics, where most researchers submit their work to the open-access repository before it is published, and is on the rise in the life sciences and other fields. Over the past decade, open-access publishing has increased its share of articles by about 1% a year (see page 425). Around 17% of the 1.66 million articles indexed by abstract and citation database Scopus in 2011 were freely available from journal publishers1.

Worldwide, more than 200 institutions and 80 research funders require their researchers' work to be open access, according to the Roarmap registry ( For example, from 1 April, researchers supported by any of the seven UK research councils will be asked to publish their work in a journal that either provides immediate and unrestricted access to the final published version of the paper, or consents to the manuscript being deposited in an open-access repository within a certain time — six months for science papers. The US National Institutes of Health requires that scientists submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts arising from agency-funded work to the digital archive PubMed Central, and that those papers are made available to the public within one year of publication.

Not everyone shares Taylor's moral outrage over the need for open access. Many senior researchers have simple advice, especially for early-career scientists: go to the best journal you can publish in. Rob Brooks, an evolutionary scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, supports open access in principle, but says that career building still relies on established models of prestige. “Journal quality remains the benchmark for that piece of work and that's what people will be assessed by,” he says. “Impact factors still pretty much rule. A lot of people — grant committees, administrators and even referees — can't assess quality. All they can do is count or pseudo-quantify. They count the number of papers you've got and count the impact factors of the papers and make a little metric, rather than just reading the papers.”...