Open Access publishing around the globe. A two-tier study on the perspectives of international medical informatics researchers on a barrier-free communication of science

Esther Greussing, Stefanie Kuballa, Monika Taddicken, Mareike Schulze, Corinna Mielke, Reinhold Haux


It is considered important or even necessary for a continuous exchange of scientific information that all relevant stakeholders can access the inner-scientific communication. The traditional publication model, however, does not provide an inclusive flow of communication but rather favours researchers affiliated with resource-strong institutions, oftentimes located in the Global North. Hence, there are increased efforts to establish an alternative, open access (OA) publication model. Since such a model can only be successful if scientists themselves support and use it, this paper presents a two-tier study examining the factors that might shape scientists’ decision (not) to choose an OA option for disseminating their own work. Based on (semi-)standardized surveys of scientific organizations and individual researchers in the field of biomedical and health informatics, it provides an overview of individual and institutional frame conditions that influence the dissemination and reception of scientific knowledge. In order to account for regional differences, it draws on a global sample, comprising respondents from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North America. Overall, the findings provide a heterogeneous picture of how OA is perceived and practiced. Respondents appreciate the convenient way to access OA articles as readers and the opportunity to reach broader (non-academic) audiences as authors. However, due to high publication fees and concerns regarding quality and reputation, a positive attitude towards OA does not necessarily translate into willingness to choose this publication model. Especially researchers from low-income countries benefit from a barrier-free communication mainly in their role as readers and much less in their role as authors of scientific information. This is also evident at the institutional level, as OA policies or financial support through funding bodies are most prevalent in Europe and North America. These findings call for more attention to inner-scientific communication as part of (science) communication research.


academic publishing; inner-scientific exchange; open access; science communication

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