COSAM News Articles 2024 03 Auburn University interdisciplinary team finds advantages for an alternative to hefty fees when publishing research

Auburn University interdisciplinary team finds advantages for an alternative to hefty fees when publishing research

Published: 03/03/2024

By: Maria Gebhardt

Publishing research open access is a great way to broaden its exposure, including to the public, but paying article processing charges (APCs) to do it can be expensive. Academic librarians, including those at Auburn, do their best to educate researchers about all of their options when it comes to open access publishing. Since authors commonly ask about the pros and cons of paying to make work open, an interdisciplinary team consisting of researchers from the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE), the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and Auburn University Libraries decided to examine the issue by the numbers.

In order to find out whether paying an APC to open an article results in a citation advantage for the authors, they analyzed five years of records totaling 146,415 articles in 152 biology journals with both open and subscription-access options. to uncover if paying for open access results directly produces more citations than not using the APC option. Their article Does it pay to pay? A comparison of the benefits of open-access publishing across various sub-fields in Biology, published recently in PeerJ, showed that while there is a citation advantage for researchers who pay APCs to open their work, there are similar advantages for articles that take advantage of “green” open access alternatives.

“Green” open access involves placing articles into public repositories at no cost to the author. At Auburn University, any AU-affiliated researcher can archive their work in the institutional repository, dubbed AUrora. Articles deposited in AUrora are indexed in Google Scholar and appear as alternate open versions of the paywalled originals in the search results.

Tanner Myers, a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences, shared how passionate the librarians were about spreading the word that publishing open access doesn’t require paying APCs.

“Green open access, or self-archiving, is an essential tool for promoting your work,” said Myers. “However, you have to respect any embargo period the publisher has. If you want to know more, ask your librarian.”

The team’s publication is the result of a Fall 2020 Introduction to Computational Biology class project. The professor, Laurie Stevison, reached out to librarians Patricia Hartman and Ali Krzton to help design a big data project around open access publishing. Amanda D. Clark, then the graduate teaching assistant, guided the students through data analysis in R. Clark and Tanner C. Myers, a doctoral student taking the course, coordinated the team and saw the project through to the published paper. Together, they share first authorship on the work. Todd Steury was later added to the team to help with the statistical analysis of the massive dataset. Nine other graduate students in the course helped with the work beyond the semester: Julio A. Yanes, Angela Barber, Jacqueline L. Barry, Subarna Barua, Katherine M. Eaton, Devadatta Gosavi, Rebecca L. Nance, Zahida H. Pervaiz, and Chidozie G. Ugochukwu. All told, this diverse group represents the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in COSAM, CFWE, CVM and AU Libraries.

“I am beyond proud of the work that Amanda and Tanner did with our outstanding Auburn colleagues,” said Stevison, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and coordinator for the graduate certificate in computational biology. “Our findings and recommendations will help faculty decide whether they really need to pay to make their research open access.”

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