Generation gap in authors' open access views and experience, survey reveals

October 8, 2013

John Wiley & Sons today announced the results of its 2013 author survey on open access, with over eight thousand respondents from across Wiley's journal portfolio. The survey is a follow up to Wiley's 2012 open access author survey and is the second such survey conducted by Wiley. This year new sections were added including research funding and article licenses.

Consistencies were seen between the 2012 and 2013 surveys in authors' desire to publish in a high-quality, respected journal with a good Impact Factor, but the also shed light on differences between early career researchers (respondents between the ages of 26-44 with less than 15 years of research experience) and more established colleagues in their opinions on quality and licenses. Differences were also seen across funding bodies and in the funding available for to different author groups.

Key findings included:

  • The number of open access authors has grown significantly: The number of Wiley authors who have published an open access article almost doubled since 2012, up to 59% from 32%. Over half of responding authors received grant funding (24% full funding, 29% partial funding) to cover Article Publication Charges (APCs), an increase of 43% over last year.
  • Quality and profile of open access publications remains a concern: 68% of funded authors publish their work open access, but for those who chose not to, the most prominent reasons were concerns about the perceived quality and profile of open access publications.
  • There are indications of author confusion around funder mandates. A significant majority of authors funded by institutions mandating Creative Commons licensing (notably authors funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Wellcome Trust which require immediate Gold or Green after embargo periods) said there is no specific license requirement when publishing open access.
  • Respondents overwhelmingly preferred the more permissive licenses: CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License) was ranked in their top three by 81% of respondents and 70% ranked CC-BY (Creative Commons Attribution License) in their top three, but preferences vary by age group. Early career professionals were 6% more likely to publish under a Creative Commons (CC) license than more mature researchers, while over half of respondents above the age of 55 preferred not to use CC licenses of any kind.
  • Considerable differences emerge between early career professionals and more established colleagues when comparing funding and payments for APCs. Early career professionals were significantly more likely to have APCs paid for by funders or institutions and were far less likely to pay out of their own funds than respondents over the age of 45 with more than 15 years of experience.

"This year's survey has shown many steady trends in author views on open access and also clear differences between those of early career and more experienced researchers," said Rachel Burley, Vice President & Director, Open Access, Wiley. "We are continuing to build the Wiley Open Access program to provide more high-quality, peer-reviewed journals and ensure that we offer authors the options that are right for them."

The survey was circulated to 107,000 corresponding journal article authors of 2012 papers across Wiley's journal portfolio. Regionally, 36% of respondents were from the Americas, 45% from countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and 19% from the Asia/Pacific region. At the institution level, respondents from Universities/Colleges comprised the majority of (5,377 responses, 64%). The second and third largest pools of responses were working at Research Institutes (937 responses, 11%) and Hospitals/Clinics (839 responses, 10%).

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