Who's writing open access articles?
An Academic Analytics Research Center (AARC) study has found greater rates of authorship of open access (OA) research articles among scholars at more prestigious institutions with greater access to resources and job security. "The open access publishing model is growing, and open access successfully democratizes the results of research projects, but it's clear now that some scholars are more likely to be represented in the open access literature" said AARC director and lead author of the study Anthony Olejniczak, Ph.D.
The researchers analyzed characteristics of 182,320 open access authors at American research universities from 2014 through 2018. The study found similar results for both OA authors who paid article processing charges (APCs; the author-paid publication cost for an open access article in some publishing models) and those whose research ultimately ends up in OA repositories but did not necessarily pay APCs. In both cases, results show that the likelihood for a scholar to author an OA article increases with male gender, employment at a prestigious institution, affiliation with STEM disciplines, federal research funding support, and more advanced career stages.
Caroline Whitacre, Ph.D. (former Senior Vice President for Research at the Ohio State University and currently an Academic Advisor to Academic Analytics) commented "There are currently more than 12,500 open access journals in circulation, allowing unprecedented access of up-to-date scholarly information to the public. The importance of this study is that it provides a comprehensive look at authors publishing in open access journals across the US, highlighting notable characteristics of the faculty and their institutions."
The researchers agree that the OA movement provides a much-needed change to the way research is disseminated, finding that 46.3% of the 1.6 million articles they examined are OA articles. Olejniczak commented that "...although the results of research projects are increasingly open, there's still work to do to level the playing field in terms of who's voice is being democratized."