Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Paul Royster

Date of this Version



Open Scholarship Initiative Proceedings, Volume 1, 2016.


© 2016 OSI2016 Participation in the Current System workgroup. This open access article is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


OSI2016 Workgroup Question: Do researchers and scientists participate in the current system of scholarly publishing because they like it, they need it, they don’t have a choice in the matter, or they don’t really care one way or another? What perceptions, considerations and incentives do academicians have for staying the course (like impact factors and tenure points), and what are their pressures and incentives for changing direction (like lowering publishing charges)?

The authors of scholarly works play a critical role in the scholarly communications system: authors are the original content creators, and in many or most cases are the original rightsholders and the ultimate decisionmakers when it comes to how, when, and where to publish their work. Although there are other significant participants in the current system (including publishers, librarians, information consumers, etc.), understanding and respecting the range of influences that shape author publication decisions are crucial to effecting change in the system. While recognizing the highly individual and diverse nature of author interests, we identified several priorities that stand out as driving decisions in the publication process. Career advancement concerns are primary, and the perceived currency of a publication mode or venue with promotion and tenure committees is a significant factor in decision making. A related, but distinct, factor is a publication venue’s perceived prestige among the authors’ peers. Both of these considerations have significant interplay with, and often serve as proxies for, scholarly authors’ overarching motivation to advance knowledge and make an impact in their fields. External factors may also direct author choice. Funder requirements and, in the case of works made for hire, employer requirements, can narrow the range of options available to authors. Survey evidence suggests that authors increasingly see open publication models as being consistent with, or in furtherance of, their goals as scholars.1 For instance, authors increasingly see open access (OA) publication as leading to wider circulation, greater visibility, and possibly more citations. Our task was to consider how we might accelerate these trends to facilitate openness in scholarship.