"Open access has been a hot topic in academic communities recently. In the UK, recent changes in policy by the government and Research Councils have led to concerns that the revenues of publishing companies are being protected at the expense of the publicly-funded science budget. Elsewhere, the quality of some open access journals has been put under question by an experiment reported in Science, where demonstrably nonsensical articles were submitted and accepted to a number of open-access journals. As demographers and academics, we should consider what effect the current seismic changes in the dissemination of research are likely to have on our own activities, and how we should now go about getting our research published ... So, what does it mean to us as demographic researchers? In the first instance, it is important to know the policy of your research funder and of your institution. The Sherpa-Juliet website guides you through this former task by providing an international database of funder requirements. Once you have this information, you then need to make sure you submit to a journal that allows compliance with these requirements (for instance, one that has a gold open access option, or that allows archiving of pre-prints). Sherpa-Juliet’s counterpart, Sherpa-Romeo, gives a directory of journals and their positions on these points. According to Romeo, Demography allows self-archiving of author’s post-review manuscripts on a personal website, but places a 12-month embargo on access to copies in open access repositories, for example. For UK based researchers, Sherpa-Fact gives information on whether a given journal complies with the OA mandates of the major research councils. There is also the problem, highlighted by the Science article at the top of the page, of ‘predatory’ open access publishers who aim to take advantage of the open access movement by setting up journals that seem to have little regard for research quality in order to make money from APCs. Consider the experience of one anthropologist, detailed here. Before submitting to a less-well known open-access journal, this list of potentially predatory publishers is definitely worth checking, particularly if a fee is mentioned.
Of course, it is easy to rail at publishing companies, but we must also consider our own actions. Complying with institutional and funder mandates is the minimum requirement. We should also consider where we want to be in the future, as the current system is sustained by the academics who submit articles to it. As researchers, we should bear in mind the points above about the importance of open access when we submit papers. We are lucky enough to have, in Demographic Research, a good ‘pure’ open access journal which does not charge any publication fees and allows all-comers unrestricted access to articles – we should try and support it. Of course, there is sometimes a trade off to be made between supporting open access and submitting to high impact journals. For those of us at the beginning of our careers in a highly competitive job market, it is perhaps unavoidable that we wish to try and safeguard our futures by submitting to the top journals in the field (which, at present, are generally hybrid journals). Where this very pressing need prevents us from taking the ‘Golden Road’, the ‘Green Route’ of self-archiving allows us the opportunity to make our research freely available to all ..."