The paper 'An Open Access future? Report from the eurocancercoms project'1 from the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) analyses the results of a survey, carried out as part of the FP7-funded Eurocancercoms2 project, looking at researchers' attitudes towards Open Access publishing. Feasible OA business models to challenge the customary subscription models are also examined.
The survey revealed that the internet is used by 94% of cancer researchers for professional activities every day, with the majority accessing PubMed and online journals daily or 2-3 times a week. It also clearly demonstrates a need for Open Access publishing as a means to enable researchers to progress with their work. Journal 'paywalls' can act as a barrier to retrieval of urgent and essential information.
With nearly three quarters of survey respondents having already published work in Open Access journals, the survey indicates a growing acceptance of the OA route to publication. Even more convincing is the finding that 88% of respondents believe that publicly funded research should be made available to be read and used without access barriers. This too is increasingly becoming the standpoint of funders, who are listening to the concerns of researchers about access.
The only real barrier to OA publishing is the traditional publisher, who driven by profit is reluctant to embrace the much less-profitable OA publishing model. The paper suggests that OA journals will work with a 'pay to publish' model and that Open Access publishers will be able to supplement income through other routes. Research funders are already beginning to challenge the publishers by setting up their own journals.
The publishing of this report timely coincides with a resurgence in debate about OA publishing. One example being a strongly worded comment recently published in the Guardian3 in which George Monbiot calls for the liberation of publicly funded research, taking it away from the publishing monopolies.
The needs of researchers, authors and funders strongly support the move towards an Open Access future, which lays down a challenge to the traditional journal publishers.
2. For information on Eurocancercoms, visit the project’s website: http://www.eurocancercoms.eu
3. G Monbiot, ‘Academic Publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist’, Guardian, Monday 29 August 2011; http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/29/academic-publis...