Guest Post – Assessing User Perceptions of an Open Access Subvention Fund – The Scholarly Kitchen

“After eight years of funding open access (OA) articles, University Libraries at Virginia Tech has a wealth of quantitative data on article processing charges (APC). However, we lacked qualitative information on authors’ perceptions about funding OA articles, how this funding supports research in specific disciplines, and how authors view OA publishing in general. Since the fund’s inception, the Library’s expenditures on APCs has increased over 500%, prompting us to ask authors about their perceptions of the Open Access Subvention Fund (OASF) as we consider its future development and sustainability….

In fall 2019 we conducted a survey of all the VT authors and co-authors who had requested APC support between August 2012 and October 2019….

As context for understanding respondents’ views on the OASF, we wanted to learn about their views on the value of OA publishing more generally. Overall the attitudes were positive (perhaps not surprising given that those receiving the survey were seeking funding to publish OA) but the nuances are useful to understand.

 

56% of respondents felt that OA publishing should be a positive factor in promotion and tenure (P&T) considerations. But, 58% said it had not been discussed by any P&T committee they served on.
63% of the respondents received no special recognition from their departments for publishing an OA article.
Only 20% of authors reported that they deposited their articles in VTechWorks (our institutional repository). This indicates they may not be aware of the added exposure that the repository could provide for their work. Or, they may believe that by publishing the work OA, there is no need to provide a duplicate a copy in VTechWorks. (Note: OASF-supported articles are deposited in VTechWorks by Scholarly Communication Department staff if the authors do not deposit them.)
Authors are spreading the word about the OASF to their colleagues. While the Library uses a number of communication channels to advertise the fund, word of mouth seems to be very  effective. Nearly 80% indicated that they passed on information they got from a Library session, and 49% of respondents said they learned about the fund from a colleague.
Authors report encouraging others to publish in OA journals, including colleagues at VT (37%) and other universities (20%), graduate students (34%), and occasionally undergraduate students (8%)….”