From Open Access to Generally Openly Available

In the last weeks of the first year of this project, I am writing down the conclusions of the research. A detailed report will be available soon (in Dutch), but here is a small snap shot already.

Academic publishing is currently being turned upside down under the influence of the move to Open Access publishing. The big deals that universities traditionally made with journal publishers are not so certain anymore because governments want results of publicly funded research to be freely accessible to the larger public. At the same time, applied research has in the past decade become one of the central tasks of HBO institutions (Universities of Applied Sciences) in the Netherlands. However, the publication strategies of academic universities cannot be copied straightforwardly to applied research, which has an audience of professionals besides their audience of other researchers. Publishing in journals might serve researchers, but it does little to reach professionals.

A specific strategy for publishing for professionals is needed because:

  • Traditional publications in academic journals aren’t easily and/or freely accessible to a non-researcher audience.
  • While Open Access publishing makes articles available more freely, they hardly reach audiences of professionals. This means that publishing openly is more important in applied research than publishing strictly through Open Access systems.
  • Additionally, professionals have different ways of working compared to researchers, meaning that as well as different forms, professionals use different places to find the information they need. The presentation of content needs to suit the professional reader and applied research publishing needs to be aware of where professionals are. Professionals and researchers have different information needs, so publishing once to please both is not ideal.
  • Finally, the way impact is measured in academic publishing doesn’t take into account the different kinds of output of applied research and the societal impact that is characteristic of it. This type of impact cannot be measured by a citation factor.

This means that we have to look at what distinguishes applied research from academic research and strengthen support of publishing strategies that enhance this difference.