A brief analysis of Opscidia’s survey on scientific publishing

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First of all, we would like to thank all of the 362 people who took time to respond and share our survey. It is very useful to help us design the best publishing solutions that the research community deserves.

We try to analyse carefully your feedbacks and publish a first analysis. You will find the (anonymized) data at the bottom of this page. Please feel free to have a look and to share with us your comments about it.

A quite diverse panel of respondents 

We were very happy to have 362 responders from all around the world.

We also have a quite good variety of researchers from PhD students (24.83%) to tenured academics (21.81%) without forgetting Postdoc (22.48% ), corporate R&D (9.73%) and even former researchers (10.74%) and public sector research engineer (5.03%)

We can’t say these figures are representative of the researchers community since the PhD students seems to be over represented. The average age of the responders confirms this intuition as it is 35,6 years old which is younger than the average age of the researchers in general (we found 45.1 to 48.6 in a study about US scientists).

We have been careful to promote it in various circles nevertheless our panel is probably somehow biased as it has been partially recruited within open science enthusiast circles. 

The main domains were all significantly represented.

Without surprise we have a majority of French people (60%) but their responses are similar to researchers when we filter them out. For once it seems that there is no “french cultural exception” !

Hence we consider that our panel is diverse enough to provide us with good qualitative intuition but not representative enough to perform quantitative statistical analysis. 

Now, what do the respondents say about scholarly publishing? 

How to stay up-to-date ?

Before diving into the well-known current debates in the scientific communities about open access, let’s start with the main objective of scholarly publishing: to share results within the scientific community. Hence, we started asking how researchers are keeping up-to-date with the results of their colleagues.

The results of the survey is balanced on this point. Conference, informal discussion and the various ways of curating publications seems to be used by researchers. But the “death of the journals” (we have all heard about at least once or twice) are not for today. Academic journals and the credibility they bring remain crucial in scientific information sharing. 

However the current journal system is far from being perceived as ideal. Let’s continue and see how researchers want it to evolve. 

A large majority for Diamond Open Access

The first very clear output of this survey is that researchers do not consider normal to pay neither to access nor to publish a paper. Only 1.95% consider that is normal to pay to be published (Q2). And only 2.78% consider that is normal to pay to access an article (Q12).

23.77% consider that academic researchers should be able to read freely the research papers they need whether or not their university has paid for it. And a very large majority (73.46%) go even further as they agree with the following statement: “everyone should be able to read freely research articles whether an academic or not.”

Again, our panel might be slightly biased, but nevertheless quite diverse, hence the impressive score of pro open access statements may be mitigated but not entirely ignored.

Another question (Q17) was also dealing with scholarly publishing model but with a different approach. The question was seeking for the main roles of publishers : 73.73% of the responders agree with the statement that publishers’ role is to help sharing research results to society as a whole. A lot more than:

  • 53.80% thinking it is to provide tools for the research community
  • 18.04% thinking it is to help industry access valuable information

Note that the responders could choose several answers to this question.

It comes as a confirmation that Open Access is not limited to researchers concerns but has to be thought in the perspective of granting access to the whole society. We were happy to see that among those topics, the sharing of scientific knowledge outside the academic circles is a major one.

On the difficult question of who should fund the academic publishing activities, responses are quite diverse. Most people (85.67%) think that governments should be part of the equation, but do not believe that it could fund it all, hence Research labs (55.73%) and Industry (50.32%) could also participate. 

The best format is the one you already use

The question of format is very important for us and there is a lot of debates and initiatives on this subject. Surprisingly the responders of our survey seem to consider that what they are actually using is not to far from the ideal formats.

The most traditional format (PDF/Word for submitting and pdf for reading) are high above the others when the considering the best format.


Peer-review: Yes to open report but no to open identity

The question of the different model of peer-review is really active in the research community so this was a very interesting topic for us. Our results reflect the ongoing debate: results are almost balanced. However the model of “open report” (public rather than private) but not “open identity” (anonymous rather than identified) seems to be the prefered one.


What about the Opscidia funding model ?

Last, let’s discuss alternative funding models. One important point that we wanted to check was the kind of new model researchers are willing to try to reach the totally free (“diamond” as it is often call) Open Access model that everyone wishes. 

Opscidia’s approach is to sell intelligence and analystics extracted from scientific corpus with the help of text-mining technologies.

The questions Q19 and Q20 were collecting the researcher’s thoughts about this model. The main results is almost perfectly balanced. We see it as encouragement : our idea deserve to be tried !

The question Q20 was more open and the main remarks tend to confirm what we heard in our live interviews with researchers : “bias” and “conflicts of interest” are seen as the main risks. 

We are aware of this risks, and we hope that the model that we are currently designing will bring guarantees about these risks as we will grow: total freedom for editorial committees, no possible lock-in of the journals, etc. If you want to know more about this, please see our manifesto

We hope the information contained in this survey was of interest for you. If you think a deeper analysis can be made, please feel free to download raw data and get in touch with us.

Thank again to all of you for your help !