Failure to Scale: Changing Workflows Hampers Open Access

Toby Green, in Learned Publishing, argues it is taking so long for Open Access to scale because so many established work patterns need to change in concert from a variety of stakeholders: authors, authors' institutions, funders, librarians, publishers and readers. 

Let us look at one stakeholder, the author, as an example. For green open access, at a minimum, the author needs to change from his or her traditional approach as follows: he or she would need to select a journal that allows a green version to be posted in a repository and then find a suitable repository on which to post it. This does not sound like much, but without mandates, only around a fifth of authors actually make the effort to deposit green versions, a figure that struggles to rise above 70% with mandates (Gargouri, Larivière, & Harnad, 2013; Poynder, 2011). A study of Spanish researchers in 2016 showed that, when allowed, just 13% of authors posted green versions on their institutional repository, and allowed or not, just over half posted full-text versions on ResearchGate (Borrego, 2017). It seems that even a little change involving no out-of-pocket cost is a tough ask for authors, even when backed up by a mandate.

For gold, at a minimum, the author needs to find a suitable gold open access journal and, sometimes, find funds to pay the publishing bill. As we have seen above, with less than 20% of all new articles published in gold journals, for most authors, not changing to gold is vastly preferable.

He notes other issues, too. Well worth the read.