Adapted under a CC-BY 4.0 license from the The 30-Day Impact Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Raising the Profile of Your Research eBook published by Impactstory.org and authored by Stacy Konkiel, and the Duquesne University 5-Day Impact Challenge.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
When we talk about our work being impactful, one of the easiest ways to show impact is by finding examples of others using your work, whether that’s by citing it, teaching with it, sharing it online, or otherwise. So next, you need to think about where you can put this work in order to maximize who sees it and then uses or reuses it.
The Open Access movement advocates for the “free and unrestricted online availability” (Budapest Open Access Initiative, 2002) of research outputs, including the papers, reports, datasets, and monographs that you produce as a researcher. Read on to learn more about how to start making your work more open and available.
Making your work available open access can boost your scholarly profile by potentially netting you more views, downloads, and citations. Open access to research can also be considered to be a social justice issue. Finally, funders are increasingly requiring that the results of grant-funded research be made freely available. Benefits include:
More citations. As multiple studies have shown, open access journals can result in more citations (this is referred to in the literature as "citation advantage"). There are indications that data and monographs made available openly also receive more use.
More access for those who need it. There are plenty of people who might need access to your studies–scholars from small institutions, low-income countries, patient advocates, patients themselves, citizen scientists, and members of the general public. Publishing open access will enable a wide range of individuals to access and learn from your work.
More readers. A 2008 study showed that “full text downloads were 89% higher, PDF downloads 42% higher, and unique visitors 23% higher for open access articles than for subscription access articles.” These findings have been confirmed for other disciplines, as well. And a recent study by Euan Adie at Altmetric.com showed that Mendeley readers were higher for OA articles, too.
Peer review. Open access journals peer review just like subscription journals. Just as highly-ranked subscription journals have rigorous peer review practices, so do highly-ranked OA journals. Many even practice open peer review, which seeks to make the peer review process more transparent.
Increased control over your content. If you publish in an OA journal, you will often retain the copyright to your article. This means you can do more with it in terms of reuse and sharing. You can also link others to OA publications of any type more easily, adding to the detail and accessibility of your online scholarly profile.
Publishing in an open access journal can be expensive. Many OA journals charge publication fees that cost anywhere from $75 to $4,300, making OA publishing in certain journals a non-starter for underfunded researchers. Fee waivers are often available, though, and self-archiving a copy of your article in an open access repository is another route to making your work OA.
Some OA journals are fairly new. As a result, they may not have yet well-established metrics, such as their Journal Impact Factor. Article-level metrics can be an answer to this problem, though–a highly cited paper is still highly cited, no matter where it’s published. By the same token, some Open Access publications have very robust reputations.
Some bad actors have misused open access. Certain publishers lure authors with flattering emails, praising their work and inviting them to publish in seemingly prestigious journals. Called "predatory publishers," these journals typically have official-sounding names that are similar to the names of well-established and respected journals. These journals often practice no or low-standard peer review, sometimes have fabricated metrics or editorial boards, and will likely try to obtain your copyright and then charge a steep fee to publish the article. It’s best to be skeptical when you receive an unsolicited inquiry from a publisher. Check out the Be iNFORMEd checklist for some questions you might ask if you suspect you have been contacted by a predatory publisher. Remember, though--these practices are not representative of the practices or aims of open access publishing.
You may need to educate some of your peers about your choice to publish open access. Although open access publishing is not a new phenomenon, many myths and misunderstandings persist. You may find that you become something of an open access advocate when you talk about your experience! If you need ideas for how to indicate the quality of a journal in which you have published, speak to a librarian.
We think that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, especially given the pace with which academia is changing to embrace OA.
One method to increase readership of your work is to publish it in an Open Access (OA) repository or journal. Depending on your scholarly goals, you may wish to publish in an OA journal or repository from the beginning, or publish with a subscription journal/press and then make a version of your work available OA after.
There are several types of OA designations to consider:
A common function of different impact tracking tools is that they search using Digital Object Identifiers, or DOIs. These can be created for any kind of work, whether it’s conference slides, articles, white papers, project files, and more. If you’re publishing an article in a journal there’s a very good chance it will have a DOI, but it may not! If the original publication doesn’t assign one, you might want to publish another version of your work in a repository that does.
If you choose to publish in a subscription resource but wish to also publish an OA version of your work as well, you need to know what rights agreement you made with the original publisher. The following resources will help you identify your rights, negotiate rights at the time of publication, and reclaim rights for work you did not retain copyright for.