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SOAP project reveals enthusiasm for open access

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Approximately 90 per cent of the 40,000 published scholars who answered a large-scale online survey said they are convinced that open-access (OA) journals are or would be beneficial for their field. The main reasons given for this view are: benefit for the scientific community as a whole; financial issues; public good; and benefit to the individual scientist. The vast majority disagrees with the idea that OA journals are either of low quality or undermine the process of peer review.

These are some of the findings of the SOAP project into the OA publishing landscape, which presented its final results in January in Berlin to an audience of publishers, librarians and funding agencies, including the European Commission.

The audience also heard that the main barriers encountered by 5,000 scientists who would like to publish in OA journals but did not manage to do so are funding (in 39 per cent of cases) and the lack of journals of sufficient quality in their field (for 30 per cent).

According to SOAP, the number of OA articles published in “full” or “hybrid” OA journals was around 120,000 in 2009, which is around eight to 10 per cent of the estimated yearly global scientific output, and journals offering a “hybrid” OA option had a take-up of around two per cent. However, OA journals in several disciplines (including life sciences, medicine, and earth sciences) are of outstanding quality, and have Impact Factors in the top one to two per cent of their disciplines.