Understanding open access policy: the view from the U.S. and U.K.
What is the impact of open-access policies in the U.K. and U.S. on individual researchers? How aware are researchers of these policies, do they understand what it means for them, and what do they think the benefits will be? How does this differ by age, gender, experience, or discipline? This year’s Open Access Survey sought to answer these questions, quizzing researchers from around the world to assess how the implementation of country-level mandates on open access is affecting them.
As part of Taylor & Francis’ wider survey on open access, U.K.- and U.S.-based researchers answered a series of questions on RCUK open-access policy, and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014. When it comes to understanding their national policy, U.K.-based researchers had a head start on their counterparts in the U.S. U.K. authors were surveyed in March 2014, twelve months after the implementation of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) policy. This showed in the responses, with U.K.-based researchers having the highest level of awareness among authors across all thirteen countries surveyed on their respective open-access mandates. In the U.S. the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 only came into effect at the start of the year and, understandably, awareness of public-access policy was relatively low at just 30%. However, a significant proportion of those who did know about the policy believed it would be easy to comply (37%).
Across all disciplines, U.S.-based authors mostly agreed that publishing under this public-access policy would enable their work to be read by more people (62%) and reach those outside the author’s field more easily (53%). Almost half of U.S. authors also agreed that this would lead to more citations of their work (47%) and increase its impact (45%). Those from the U.K. weren’t quite so sure, with authors who neither agreed nor disagreed with these statements being the largest group of respondents.
The survey analysis on open-access policies raises interesting questions on how advocacy and communication reaches individual researchers across all disciplines, and the role that stakeholders have in this, whether publisher, funder, or institution. See the view from the U.S. and U.K., and if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to explore the full survey, you can read it now. Analysis from other countries will be released soon, including the view from Europe on Horizon 2020.