Open access education: time for a new approach?

Tim Ellison

Open access publishing is on the rise, providing both opportunities and challenges for publishers, academics, funding bodies and pharma. However, academic authors collaborating with pharma prefer to publish in journals with the highest impact factor possible, and open access is not necessarily the authors’ priority.

In our Open Pharma workstreams, we have identified a strong need to clarify the terminology and benefits of open access – information that both academic authors and pharma companies can use to inform their publishing choices. Therefore, we investigated what educational resources already exist; our search method is at the bottom of this article.

Among the resources we identified were the following, which readers may find helpful.

We found that the available educational materials on open access covered the basics; however, there was a lot of overlap in content, the resources were scattered and not cross-referenced, and most materials were more than a year old. Furthermore, most materials were text-based, making them unengaging and unlikely to attract much interest from audiences who are new to the concept of open access. Interestingly, although there were educational materials from or aimed at a range of stakeholders, including research scientists, publishers, and funders, no such materials involved pharma.

The terminology used for open access and the available copyright licences was not covered in depth by any of the educational materials. Individual journals and publishers do provide this information, but the terminology is opaque and inconsistent.

We are considering the need for Open Pharma to develop educational material on open access specifically for pharma audiences. This is an opportunity for pharma to join the conversation, to promote transparency in scientific research and to fill relevant knowledge gaps.

What kind of material would be useful for you? Please get in touch here to share your thoughts.

Next week, look out for our summary of materials that we found about preprints.


Search method

We conducted a Google search for educational materials about open access and preprints using the search terms ‘what is open access’, ‘open access education’, ‘why open access’, ‘what are preprints’, ‘preprint education’ and ‘why preprints’. We also searched for ‘#openaccess’ and ‘#preprints’ on Twitter. We manually selected items on the basis of relevance.