How can I convince co-authors to publish using open access?

+9 votes
137 views
asked Aug 4, 2015 in Open Science by ph0t0nix (45 points)

As an employee of a small business with a focus on research in the life sciences we don't have a huge budget for library subscriptions. Obviously, it is in our interest to publish our results with open access (and have others do the same).

Collaborating mostly with researchers from medical centres, I often have trouble to convince my fellow authors to choose for open access. Reasons that I can think of for them to stay "closed" are:

  • Their institutions have subscriptions, so why pay again (from their own budget) for open access?
  • Top journals have a 'closed policy' by default (i.e. selecting open access requires (a bit) more work).
  • Related to the previous point: fully open access journals like the PLoS journals have too low impact factors.
  • They simply are less interested in open science, or have less experience with it. (This may seem like bashing, but moving from physics to the (medical) life sciences I experienced a huge culture shock. The pace is much higher and the stakes seem to be too. In my experience the culture is less "open" and open science and reproducible research are only recently being put on the radar).

One positive point on the horizon: more and more public funding agencies have open access publishing as part of their requirements.

So, as the title says, which arguments can I use to (try to) convince my collaborators to choose for open access (assuming I'm not in a decision making position)?



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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Alexander Konovalov (135 points)
If you think that this thread should be migrated to Academia or another SE site because the OpenScience beta is closing, please edit the list of questions shortlisted for the migration [here](http://meta.openscience.stackexchange.com/questions/73/).

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commented Aug 18, 2015 by Daniel Mietchen (1,145 points)
I was about to post the same question, as I think it's clearly an important one and relevant to [the question about inhibitors of open science](http://openscience.stackexchange.com/questions/36/what-are-the-inhibitors-of-open-science).

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commented Aug 18, 2015 by ph0t0nix (45 points)
In my experience, there's a lot of ignorance on the importance of open science (at least in my field). So educating people is never a bad idea. On the other side of things: I have seen quite a few PhD students who come in with one goal only, to get their PhD degree and use their improved CV (with PhD title and long publication list) to advance on the (medical) career ladder, sometimes trying to cut corners. So open science would at least allow others to try and replicate the results, even if the original authors had no interest in it.

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commented Aug 18, 2015 by HDE 226868 (320 points)
There's another question here: Should you? Your co-authors aren't doing research in the open mindset - that is, conducting it in a manner that eases open use of the results. If the work isn't done in that mindset and with that intent, then perhaps it shouldn't be released openly.

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2 Answers

+4 votes
answered Aug 4, 2015 by Jure Triglav (110 points)

Not from experience, as my researcher days ended before open access really took off, but if you can't convince them based on the ethical advantages, I would approach it using the "open access citation advantage carrot".

Impact factors are journal-wide, but there's a number of studies that have looked at the effect open access has on the number of citations of individual papers, which is a very important metric for just about every author, and the consensus is that open access works are in fact cited more: http://sparceurope.org/oaca/

Same goes for open data and the open data citation advantage: https://peerj.com/articles/175/

I'm sure someone with real experience in convincing co-authors will come along and support or criticize this method. Please report back with your experience as well, it will be useful for a lot of people.



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+4 votes
answered Aug 4, 2015 by Daniel Standage (420 points)

As HDE 226868 mentions, open science can and should involve a lot more than just publishing in open access journals. It involves making data, software, and all other research outputs anonymously and freely accessible to facilitate reproduction of results and building on ideas.

But just on the question of publishing: one can extol the virtues of open access ad nauseum and yet many academic colleagues will remain unconvinced. Perhaps the most effective way to convince them that open access is worth their consideration is by tying it to their career incentives.

  • How are academic scientists evaluated? On the number and "impact" of their publications.
  • How can open science help? While it may not do much for the number of publications, there is a growing body of evidence that open access research gets viewed and (more importantly) cited more. Ask your colleagues to think about the times they try to download paywalled articles when they're off campus, and that alone should give them a sense as to why this second point is true.

Many journals (including some "glamour journals") allow posting and sharing of preprints. Many scientists send out papers to friends and colleagues before submitting to a journal anyway, and posting a manuscript to a preprint server is a great way to solicit feedback and improve a manuscript's contents and its chances of getting published.



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