"The transition to open access rests on trust and diversity"

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Miriam Maus, Publishing Director at IOP Publishing, discusses her thoughts on the future of open-access publishing

The theme this year is climate justice and sustainability – how does that tie in with your goals as an open access academic society publisher? 

Universal access to knowledge is critical if we're to address some of the world's most pressing issues - the climate crisis being one of the biggest priorities. We've long been proponents of open access and are committed to developing a diverse and healthy open access community. As a community-focused, society-owned publisher, we encourage authors to publish their work open access to maximise the discoverability and impact of their research. For instance, this year, we have extended our Environmental Research Series, an evolving suite of fully open access titles covering the most critical areas of environmental science and sustainability. We also make some of our research accessible through the Climate Change Knowledge Cooperative. This platform provides easy-to-comprehend research summaries to help everyone understand and act on climate change science.  

At the same time, we are committed to ensuring that we operate in a sustainable way – be that managing the carbon footprint of our publishing activities, managing our offices more sustainably or encouraging our colleagues to think more ‘green’. As a signatory of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Publishers Compact, we’re working toward becoming a net-zero organisation and have recently introduced Giki Zero, a personal impact calculator, which is freely available to all IOP Publishing colleagues. We believe that small changes to our daily lives are equally important to tackling the climate crisis and by working out our carbon footprint we can take practical steps to reduce it. 

Why is open access important, and why does Open Access Week matter? 

We recognise the value and impact of scientific research and believe that wider and faster access to this trusted source of knowledge is key to accelerating scientific discovery. As an awareness campaign, Open Access Week helps to keep momentum going, getting people talking about the importance of sharing discoveries openly. It all helps to support the transition to open access in the most sustainable way.  

 A sector-wide shift towards open-access publishing has truly begun, and we need to seize the opportunity to shape the future of scholarly publishing. For us, that means making scientific research accessible to as many people as possible who might benefit from it. We know from our own data that open access content is downloaded 80% more than paywalled content and cited 30% more, so there are substantial benefits to publishing open access. But transitions often come with challenges, and we recognise that there are barriers to publishing open access for some researchers. Awareness events such as Open Access Week stimulate debate around social and environmental issues associated with the transition to open access. 

How will you be marking this year’s Open Access Week?  

We’ll be focusing on how science is addressing some of the world’s most critical issues and the importance of ensuring universal access to that knowledge. To maximise the discoverability and impact of research we have selected papers that support the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals from all the research that we publish. Our Sustainability Collection is a central knowledge hub that is freely available for anyone to read. 

What is the future of open-access publishing? 

Making research openly available to all has become a priority for many. More and more research groups wish to publish their peer-reviewed research open access but often don’t have access to the necessary funding or may not be aware how to access it. A global study that we recently carried out with other leading society publishers found that over half (53%) of physical science researchers want to publish open access but 62% say a lack of monies from funding agencies prevents them from doing so. We’ll continue to see a rise in unlimited transformative agreements between publishers and institutions. These agreements make it easier for authors to publish their work open access as the cost of publishing open access is covered centrally by institutions or funders. However, the future of publishing will also need to provide equal opportunities for authors from low- and middle-income economies. We will continue to provide waivers to support researchers who might otherwise not be able to publish their work open access. 

We see the future success of the scientific communities that we serve as the measure of our own success. We’ll continue to support researchers across environmental science and beyond and endeavour to make their work accessible to as many people as possible.  

Ultimately, the transition to open access rests on trust and diversity which is central to our mission of publishing high-quality research that delivers impact, value and recognition to the scientific community.

Miriam Maus, Publishing Director at IOP Publishing