Generalising » Blog Archive » Conservation science: open access might not be endangered after all
"I was very struck to see this paper this morning: Fuller, R. A., J. R. Lee, and J. E. M. Watson. 2014. 'Achieving open access to conservation science'. Conservation Biology 28. doi:10.1111/cobi.12346. 'Conservation science is a crisis discipline in which the results of scientific enquiry must be made available quickly to those implementing management. We assessed the extent to which scientific research published since the year 2000 in 20 conservation science journals is publicly available. Of the 19,207 papers published, 1,667 (8.68%) are freely downloadable from an official repository. Moreover, only 938 papers (4.88%) meet the standard definition of open access in which material can be freely reused providing attribution to the authors is given. This compares poorly with a comparable set of 20 evolutionary biology journals, where 31.93% of papers are freely downloadable and 7.49% are open access.' These headline numbers seemed very disappointing – but, after some examination, it seems that the real figure may be substantially higher. Open access isn’t dead yet. The authors’ definition of 'open access' is given as 'full' BOAI open-access – that is to say, the final published version made available with minimal restrictions on reuse, usually marked with the CC-BY license or something functionally equivalent. This is not my preference, but fairly reasonable given that 'free access' is also considered. However, their definition of 'free access' is substantially more restrictive than the usual 'green open access' (free to read but with limited reuse rights). It only covers articles made freely available as the version of record 'from the journal’s official archive' ... This is a fairly specific requirement. Everything else was deemed unavailable, with an acknowledgement that some might be found in preprint servers ... Treating this as a divide between 'journal archives' and 'pre-print servers' entirely omits institutional repositories, which provide a significant amount of green open access material – in most disciplines, substantially more than is available through preprint servers ..."