In early June I attended ‘El Pub: The 20th International Conference on Electronic Publishing’, hosted by the University of Göttingen. The conference brought together publishers, librarians, archivists and researchers to discuss the current – largely European – landscape of electronic scholarly publishing.
Although the papers varied greatly, open access was the dominant theme across the panels. The ECRs, in particular, spoke of a policy-driven need to make government-funded research available to the public without exception. They also spoke of the well-known predicament ECRs face in deciding where and how to publish. Many have the desire to share their data and reach a wide audience via an open access platform, yet their fear of the data being misappropriated – not necessarily for commercial means but by other researchers who might use it to write ‘better’ papers – is a growing concern.
Furthermore, they expressed frustration that their career progression is dependent upon publishing in subscription journals with high impact factors, which they feel is a system designed to undermine the feasibility of open access. This system can only be broken when open access journals have built up enough traction to compete with the high impact journals, or when a universal method of quality assessment emerges to replace the metric-intensive scale currently employed.