Survey by Project SOAP

An email was received from BioMed Central today about Project SOAP. The message:

Your views on Open Access publishing are needed!

Dear Colleague,

BioMed Central has partnered with CERN, The Max Planck Society, and others in the European Commission-funded project SOAP – a Study of Open Access Publishing.

The project analyzes researchers’ attitudes towards, knowledge of and experiences with open access. The resulting insights as well as recommendations will be shared with the European Commission, publishers, research funding agencies, libraries and researchers.

Your contribution will be very valuable in shaping the public discourse on open access and we would be very grateful if you could take 10-15 minutes to complete this survey.

Please follow this link:

Thank you in advance for your help,

BioMed Central

It happens that I had already completed the survey. It did require only about 10-15 minutes to complete. I found Question 23 especially interesting:

23. Listed below are a series of statements, both positive and negative, concerning Open Access publishing. Please indicate how strongly you agree/disagree with each statement.

[Responses are via a 5-level Likert item in typical format: ‘Strongly agree’; ‘Agree’; ‘Neither agree nor disagree’; ‘Disagree’; or ‘Strongly disagree’].

Open Access publishing leads to an increase in the publication of poor quality research

[That OA scientific journals won’t preserve the quality/pedigree of science is one of the  suggestions made by Eric Dezenhall to the Association of American Publishers – see Open Access to Science Under Attack by David Biello, Scientific American, January 26, 2007. For a recent response  to a suggestion of this kind, see: PLoS ONE: Editors, contents and goals, available via:]

Open Access unfairly penalises research-intensive institutions with large publication output by making them pay high costs for publication

[This is an issue for Gold OA based on article-processing fees (APFs) – see, for example,  Science in the open, Nature Materials 2009; 8: 611. For some comments about this issue, see: More on the costs of scholarly communications, Peter Suber, May 22, 2008]

It is not beneficial for the general public to have access to published scientific and medical articles

[From a health-sciences perspective, this is a version of what BioMed Central has identified as (Mis)Leading Open Access Myth 4]

Publicly-funded research should be made available to be read and used without access barrier

[For a detailed analysis, see: The taxpayer argument for open access by Peter Suber, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, September 4, 2003]

Open Access publishing is more cost-effective than subscription-based publishing and so will benefit public investment in research

[For a summary of a pro-OA perspective on this issue, see: Major new report on the economic implications of OA, Peter Suber, Open Access News, January 27, 2009]

Articles that are available by Open Access are likely to be read and cited more often than those not Open Access

[This is actually two questions. The ‘read more?’ issue is currently less controversial than the ‘cited more?’ issue. For an extensive bibliography from The Open Citation Project, see: The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies]

If authors pay publication fees to make their articles Open Access, there will be less money available for research

[For a pro-OA response, see what BioMed Central has identified as (Mis)Leading Open Access Myth 1]

Researchers should retain the rights to their published work and allow it to be used by others

[See, for example: Retain copyright, in the Open Access section of the website of the University of Ottawa]

Open Access publishing undermines the system of peer review

[Another suggestion made by Eric Dezenhall was to “Paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles” (quoted in Open Access to Science Under Attack by David Biello, Scientific American, January 26, 2007). See also:  Will open access undermine peer review?, Peter Suber, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, September 2, 2007]

Comment: A weakness of the SOAP Survey is that it appears to be feasible to respond to it more than once.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Dupuis, Jim Till. Jim Till said: Your views on Open Access publishing are needed! #openaccess […]

  2. As a member of the SOAP team, I can tell you that the reason we decided to put some positive and negative preconceptions of OA in the survey was to determine people’s attitudes to open access publishing.
    However it is not great that you can respond to it more than once. I’ll get someone to look into that.

  3. Jim Till said

    The SOAP Survey has been criticized by some contributors to the American Scientist Open Access Forum. See, for example, Re: Please share your opinion on open access publishing, Sally Morris, May 14, 2010. Excerpt: “… the questionnaire is liable to obtain meaningless responses as it totally blurs the distinction between self-archiving and publication in OA journals“.

  4. Jim Till said

    First Results of the SOAP Project, SlideShare presentation (64 slides) by Salvatore Mele, the SOAP project co-ordinator. Presented at the OASPA annual meeting (2nd Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing, Prague, August 22-24, 2010). [COASP 2010 Wrap Up].

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