Brock researchers share their thoughts on experience with Open Access

Researchers at Brock University and across Canada are in the process of complying with the federal government’s Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications.Effective May 1, the policy requires government-funded researchers to make their publications freely accessible within 12 months of publication, either through an Open Access journal or via an online archive such as the Brock Digital Repository.As part of International Open Access Week, The Office of Research Services has asked three Brock University researchers four questions about their thoughts and experiences with Open Access publishing. For more information on Open Access at Brock University: http://brocku.ca/library/about-us-lib/openaccessVeena Dwivedi, associate professor, Department of Applied Linguistics and creator of the Brain and Language Lab Q: How important is it for your research to be widely available to the public via Open Access?A: For me, it’s extremely important. From a moral standpoint, the Canadian public has paid for my research via their tax dollars. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be accessible. In addition, the whole point of scholarly research is to benefit humanity. If they can’t see the work, what’s the point?Q: How will Canada’s new Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications affect your research and publishing?A: I hope that Brock follows through on creating an open access hub. Open access is expensive. This means that now in applying for grants, I’ll have to make that a staple in my budgetary planning.Q: What experiences have you had with publishing in an Open Access journal or archiving your work in an Open Access repository?A: I’ve published in PLoS One (via support from Brock) and have another paper under review at Frontiers. I love it because now, I can just send people the link of my paper if they want to know about it. It’s also available on ResearchGate, and I get tons of downloads there. So I’d say so far, so good. I’ll have a bit more to say once I get feedback from Frontiers.Q: What are some of the benefits and challenges you see regarding Open Access?A: As I’ve already mentioned, the benefits are accessibility and ease of dissemination. Also, as I mentioned, there is an ethical issue here. So those are the benefits. The challenges are that it costs the researcher, and research dollars are constantly on the squeeze. So I don’t know how this will play out long term.Sid Segalowitz, professor, Department of Psychology and director, Jack And Nora Walker Centre For Lifespan Development ResearchQ: How important is it for your research to be widely available to the public via Open Access?A: My work is specialized so other researchers normally always have access or write to me to get a copy. It is helpful but not essential.Q: How will Canada’s new Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications affect your research and publishing?A: I have not had time to review it entirely, but the idea of making some penultimate form available is not a problem, but will involve some work because the final edits are sometimes done on the copyrighted proofs. But these can be transferred easily to the submission copy.Q: What experiences have you had with publishing in an Open Access journal or archiving your work in an Open Access repository?A: Not used a repository but really should. It’s just another step. I have published in Frontiers once, and was supported by CRISS for this. I am not sure how often I would publish in Open Access if it will cost me $1,600 or $3,000 each time. I’d rather the money go to supporting the students.Q: What are some of the benefits and challenges you see regarding Open Access?A: The biggest challenges are the costs and the fact that some of the OA journals are questionable. It has become a venue for rip-offs so in fact I only check out two OA journals (Frontiers, PLoS), and Frontiers I have found sometimes has questionable papers published (they are a profit company after all). Frontiers beats the bushes for submissions. Other journals that permit OA but are pay journals (the Oxford series, for example) charge $3,000 last time I checked and of course I download these occasionally. The benefits are obvious if the restriction to publish is not simply driven from the impoverished reader to the poor researcher. This is not a real solution. So the repository approach is probably best. Ana Sanchez, associate professor, Department of Health Sciences Q: How important is it for your research to be widely available to the public via Open Access?A: It’s extremely important. My work focuses on neglected tropical diseases that affect impoverished populations in developing countries. Researchers, practitioners, policy makers, working in those countries benefit greatly from the capacity to access my research free of charge to them and their institutions. Likewise, researchers in high-income countries can access my work right away. OA increases accessibility and democratizes knowledge.Q: How will Canada’s new Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications affect your research and publishing?A: The new policy supports my standpoint that knowledge should be free; especially if such knowledge can help improve the life of others. It is vital that researchers share (ideas, data, methods, and even negative findings) so the scientific community can build upon that and scientific knowledge grows faster and more efficiently. Also, OA translates into transparency and accountability of the use of public funding.Q: What experiences have you had with publishing in an Open Access journal or archiving your work in an Open Access repository?A: All my papers in the last few years are in OA journals and my experience has been very satisfactory with the quality of the peer-review all the way to editorial aspects. I only had one bad experience when the lead author chose a journal of low reputation at the time and the review was merely editorial, not scientific.Q: What are some of the benefits and challenges you see regarding Open Access?A: Benefits: worldwide access through the internet; more exposure of my work; increase Brock’s visibility. I also like not giving copyright of my ideas and data to publishers, not having to ask permission to use my own graphs etc. Creative commons is a great way to license our work (there are many versions). Another benefit is that libraries don’t have to pay exaggerated amounts of money to subscribe to paid journals (regardless if they are online or paper).Challenges:Getting funds for AO processing fees. Fees can be expensive (from $2,500 to $6,000 per article) and as research funding is scarce. We need Brock to set funds aside for our OA publishing.Time. Once the paper is accepted in its final form, journals want a quick turnaround for proofreading or for enhancing an image. Sometimes I have so many other commitments that I rush into the revision and always feel anxious that I left a typo or something. I wish we had help from ORS in these cases.There are so many OA journals these days. Many are in for the money and have no ethics (aka “predatory journals”), and many are simply fake and scam honest researchers. Other journals are good but if they lose their funding and disappear, articles may disappear as well (sustainability is a huge issue). Identifying the right journal is a challenge but there exist various resources to identify them. Also as more journals exist, the demand for reviewers is great so sometimes it takes a few months to get a paper reviewed. read more

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