Fear of Career Disadvantages When Publishing in Open Access Journals

It is possible to counter the fear that Open Access could have a negative effect on career and funding opportunities by the fact a transformation can be seen regarding career opportunities in research: According to DORA (Declaration on Research Assessment), signed by more than 500 organisations and 12,000 individuals, journal-based metrics should not be taken into consideration for career-based or funding decisions. The content of a paper should play a greater role than the journal in which it is published and the value and impact of all research outputs should be taken into account.

Further fears that Open Access could damage one’s own career include:

  • Open Access limits your freedom to publish in your preferred journal: As there are many journals that will publish fully as Open Access journals, there is a large selection of Open Access publication possibilities. Furthermore, a large proportion of the chargeable subscription journals offer “hybrid” Open Access. This allows authors to make their individual articles freely accessible to readers. In this way authors can choose from a variety of high-quality, professional Open Access publication possibilities and do not need to worry about damaging their career. In many countries, framework agreements between scientific institutions and major specialist publishers have been made. These incorporate publication in the respective journals in Open Access right from the beginning, and no individual author fees are liable – these are already priced into the framework contract.
  • Others could steal my intellectual property, if I reveal my research results: There are no indications that the open exchange of publications leads to other people claiming your research ideas as their own.
  • The fear of no longer having any control over what happens with your own research results: But copyright laws also apply in principle to publication in Open Access. What’s more you can use open content licences like the Creative Commons licence according to your own preference if you publish text or data. Open Access gives you more control on how and where your own work is published.
  • Less visibility and prestige: It’s a myth that publication in Open Access would adversely affect visibility and prestige. In fact, the opposite is true: Open Access leads to more visibility and citations. Furthermore, Open Access does not necessarily mean publishing in journals with a low impact factor.
  • Peer Review in Open Access journals is of lower quality: This too is a myth, particularly since Peer Review in Open Access is often designed transparently – something that tends to increase quality. Nevertheless, you should of course avoid accidentally publishing in a predatory journal. In order to prevent this danger, we have compiled a checklist for you. We would like to point out here that in general, Peer Review of a journal is always dependent on the researchers involved there and the customary practice followed – and this should always be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, independent of the business model of a journal.
  • Open Access costs me too much and therefore limits my career possibilities: Open Access doesn’t have to cost anything, or at least not very much. After all, self-archiving costs nothing at all. In many Open Access journals, it is not necessary to pay fees to publish an article, and if they are levied, there are also possibilities to receive financial support.

We would like to point out that in general Open Access does not damage one’s own scientific career. On the contrary, Open Access can even benefit your career, because the advantages of Open Access include:

  • Open Access makes scientific work more visible. Open Access leads to higher citation rates as well as more media attention, partnership opportunities, career chances and funding opportunities.
  • Open Access leads to your research work having greater impact and promotes knowledge exchange. Your work can be better applied in practice and develop a greater societal benefit.
  • Open Access makes it easier to receive constructive feedback on one’s own research and improve its quality. If you publish your work in Open Access, this principle applies immediately and you can receive feedback quickly from the community.
  • Good scientific practice and consensus with funding guidelines: Publishing in Open Access means practicing good scientific practice and keeping to funding guidelines at the same time, because research funding institutions increasingly expect the results of funded research projects to be published in Open Access. After all, publicly financed research should be freely accessible.

We have listed further information on the advantages of Open Access at “Individual benefits of Open Access”.