Open Access: “what’s in it for me?” (being a researcher)


By Jos Damen

The publication landscape is rapidly changing. Good old fashioned scientific journals appear in electronic form only –or at least simultaneously on paper and in digital form. A lot is going on about Open Access, with British and American governments demanding that publications derived from research undertaken with government funding are openly accessible. Many universities have signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access (1)

 The money  needed to keep a journal up and running (peer review process, website, printing) have to come from some source, though. Some journals changed their business model and ask an advance publication fee from the authors (with obvious disadvantages for some researchers), some get their money from government funding or other sponsors. I know of some setbacks, but I would now like to mention the advantages of Open Access for researchers:

a. Open Access means improved access to your publications. Access from countries in the South improves drastically, as anyone will have access to online publications that are not behind a paywall. Researchers and students in developing countries will be able to keep up-to-date more easily if they can access recent publications without (financial) restrictions. (2)

b. Improved access also means that your publication is more likely to be cited. This improved chance could have effect on the index of the journal involved and on your own citation scores (ISI, H-index). If your publications are deposited in a university repository, this will help to improve the outreach of the university too. (3)

c.  Improved access means that you have  improved chances to get into contact with other researchers in your field of knowledge, but also with a general public.

d. There are two sides of the same coin: if other researchers will publish open access, you will have improved access to other people’s publications too.

e. An open debate about your research, resources and datasets might be stimulated by publishing open access. This can help to bring more transparency into the research environment. This is also important in the light of recent attention to prevention of scientific misconduct.(4)


1. Berlin Declaration on Open Access
2. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ): a list of 8,600 open access journals containing 1 million journal articles
3. Discussion with Carel Stolker (rector of Leiden University) about Open Access (in Dutch): Jos Damen vs Carel Stolker
4. Cees Schuyt et al.:  Responsible research data management and the prevention of scientific misconduct. KNAW, Amsterdam, 2013