Open access publishing is now an accepted method of scholarly communication. However, the greatest traction for open access publishing thus far has been in the sciences. Penetration of open access publishing has been much slower among the social sciences. This study surveys 309 authors from recent issues of open access journals in education to determine why they choose to publish in open access journals and to gain insight into the ways publishing practices within the discipline itself impact the willingness of authors to engage in open access publishing.From the Conclusion:
Scholars work and teach in institutions, but the vitality of their scholarly lives is derived from the reception of their work by peers within their disciplines. The education researchers surveyed confirmed that peer review is of primary importance in their publishing activity. Among education researchers, though, the impetus to share the fruits of research with the practitioner community is historically strong. Open access publication enhances the options for accomplishing this.
There remains some confusion regarding the issue of electronic journal versus print publishing. For subject liaisons discussing open access publishing with faculty, it may be important to establish that the concept of open access is not the same as a format change from print to electronic. Another potential source of confusion is self-archiving. A major trend within the scholarly communication arena, self-archiving appears to respond to somewhat different stimuli than the impulse to engage in OA publishing. Liaison librarians working with faculty on these issues cannot assume that participation in one of these activities automatically implies interest in the other.
Increasingly, open access overall represents a leading edge in scholarly publishing rather than the “fringe.” However, an understanding (and acceptance) of open access journal publishing as a viable outlet for scholarly publishing is still quite dependent on the research and publishing cultures within the disciplines. It may be helpful for liaison librarians to keep in mind that issues concerning open access crystallize at different times for different individuals. For some, clarification develops as scholars become more aware of scholarly communication generally. Others may give the matter little or no thought until open access is discussed in a forum within their narrow discipline, among colleagues they hold in high regard.
. . . . Advocacy for open access is the ideal, but such a stance may not be possible for every subject liaison. Increasing awareness of open access among our academic faculty, however, remains an important and reasonable goal for librarians. Increasing one's own awareness and knowledge of the relevant trends, coupled with patience, is recommended.