Library concerns about open-access publishing revealed in survey

July 20, 2012 | News, UToday
By Samantha Watson

A survey conducted by The University of Toledo Open-Access Steering Committee discovered that many of the participants had misunderstandings of the open-access method of publishing their research.

The committee, organized by Lucy Duhon, scholarly communications librarian and chair of the library faculty, surveyed UT faculty, researchers and teaching assistants on Main and Health Science campuses in an effort to gauge their interest in and understanding of open access, which is a method of sharing scholarly information, research and knowledge with few or no limitations or restrictions.

One of the main concerns faculty members had with publishing their research in an open-access journal, rather than a subscription-based journal, was the thought of articles not being peer-reviewed.

According to the survey, 77 percent of respondents said that being published in a respected peer-reviewed journal is very important, particularly when a faculty member is up for tenure or promotion.

The truth is many open-access journals are actually peer-reviewed, according to library officials.

Another concern expressed by faculty members surveyed is the protection of their intellectual property, a concern shared by 46 percent of the participants. But library officials noted the publication of articles in an open-access journal often makes plagiarism easier to detect and easier to prove.

Out of the 83 respondents to this survey conducted last fall, 51 percent considered it very important to be published in the most highly ranked journals in their fields, and many did not know of any open-access journals in their field.

The Directory of Open-Access Journals, available at, lists thousands of peer-reviewed journals in use, library officials noted. Also some subscription-based journals are becoming “hybrid” journals that utilize both subscriptions and open access.

“The stage is being set for the mainstreaming of the open-access model of publishing,” Duhon said. “Publishers, even traditional ones, are beginning to recognize that the tide is moving inevitably in this direction, and universities all over have already adopted policies making open access the preferred mode of scholarly communication and preservation.”

A majority of the survey respondents considered the discoverability of their work by a wide audience and the citing of their work by other researchers very important. “The whole point of publication is to reach a wide audience,” one of the respondents wrote.

Some of the survey participants are using open access to reach wider audiences; 47 percent reported having published articles in open-access journals, and 24 percent used open-access publications in their own research.

Duhon also said there’s a good chance the Federal Research Public Access Act will be passed in the future, immediately broadening the amount of taxpayer-funded research made available to the public. “The pieces are coming together from many different angles,” she said.

The survey was conducted as part of the fifth annual Open-Access Week, an international event sponsored by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, in October 2011. UT’s Open-Access Steering Committee will be planning events for this fall’s Open-Access Week.

To see more of the survey’s results, visit Carlson Library’s blog at or to learn more about Open-Access Week.

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