Societies Research Libraries // October 8th, 2013

Mind the gap: 2013 Wiley survey reveals generational differences in authors’ open access views and experience


We have just announced the results of our 2013 author survey on open access, with over 8,000 respondents from across Wiley’s journal portfolio.  The desire of authors to publish in high-quality, respected journals with a good Impact Factor remains consistent with our 2012 open access survey findings. However, the 2013 survey sheds new light on differences between early career researchers (which we define as respondents between the ages of 26-44 with less than 15 years of research experience) and more established colleagues in their opinions on quality and licenses, and the funding available to them.

The number of Wiley authors who have published an open access article has almost doubled since 2012, up to 59% from 32%.  Supporting this trend, authors are reporting a larger percentage of research funding to publish open access compared with last year. Over half of responding authors received grant funding (24% full funding, 29% partial funding) to cover Article Publication Charges (APCs), an increase of 43% from 2012. 68% of funded authors publish their work open access, but for those who chose not to, the most prominent reasons were concerns about the perceived quality and profile of open access publications.

Considerable differences emerge between early career professionals and more established colleagues when comparing funding and payments for APCs. Early career professionals were significantly more likely to have APCs paid for by funders or institutions and were far less likely to pay out of their own funds than respondents over the age of 45 with more than 15 years of experience. Whether this is indicative of a specific approach from funders or simply down to early career researchers having fewer personal funds is unclear.

The generation gap continues to be evident in preferences around licenses. When looking at the full pool, respondents overwhelmingly preferred the more permissive licenses. CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License) was ranked as a top three choice by 81% of respondents and 70% ranked CC-BY (Creative Commons Attribution License) in their top three. However, preferences clearly differed according to age group. Early career professionals were 6% more likely to publish under a Creative Commons (CC) license than more mature researchers, while over half of respondents above the age of 55 preferred not to use CC licenses of any kind.  Students are more likely to prefer one of the two ShareAlike licenses (+8% for CC-BY-NC-SA; +6% for CC-BY-SA), which requires that any copies or derivatives of an article be distributed under the same or similar licenses.  This is a trend to watch, potentially signalling a shift in license use.

But despite increased uptake and familiarity with open access options, there are also indications of author confusion around funder mandates. Across disciplines and age groups, respondents exhibited a lack of clarity and/or understanding of funder requirements. Checked against publicly available funder mandates, authors frequently misstated the open access requirements agreed to in the contracts of their grants. For example, a significant number of authors funded by institutions mandating Creative Commons licensing (notably authors funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Wellcome Trust, requiring immediate Gold or Green after embargo periods) said there is no specific license requirement when publishing open access. While steps are being taken to help authors navigate their way through license requirements (for example, Wiley’s video on RCUK open access policies) it’s clear that there is still work to be done here.

The differences revealed between early career researchers and more experienced academics emphasize the importance of offering authors a range of open access options. Protecting author choice, and the continued cooperation between publishers, funders, and institutions to make open access publishing easier for those who want it is crucial for the continued development of the OA field.

To view the results in more detail, view the full presentation on Slideshare.

  • Marcin Wojnarski

    Good stuff, thanks. Great to hear that already 60% of authors publish in Open Access, that’s a big number.

  • Satya Prakash

    great to know. i appreciate!!

  • muavia

    But most of the stuff on applied psychology yet to be paid. Considering the fact that it is the major research and publication area even emerging in every field of research and third world countries are less likely to make use of paid content. No offence. Appreciate this piece of survey

    • Verity Warne

      Thanks Muavia. We’re building a tool to help people dig into the data by subject area, country and age, which will be coming out next week. You might be interested in taking a look at it – we’ll post an announcement when it’s ready.