Why open access promotes science as a collective endeavor

The Source
By: Roza Sakellaropoulou, Sun Oct 18 2020

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Roza Sakellaropoulou

Author: Roza Sakellaropoulou

We are celebrating this year’s open access (OA) week by talking to a number of researchers from Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden who have chosen to publish their work open access. We are discussing the reasons behind their choice, the benefits they have seen for their research and career, and the role that institutions as well as transformative agreements can have in assisting with funding. Here, Dr. Viktoriia Radchuk, senior scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, shares her thoughts.

This year’s OA week theme is “Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion”. What is the role of OA in addressing equity and inclusion and what more can be done?

In my opinion OA is important for the issues of equity and inclusion because it makes the published research widely available and enables researchers all over the world to read it. However, the high publication fees often associated with OA may at the same time be a hindrance for the researchers from the countries with less financial support. Therefore, I think that it would be extremely important to create waivers targeting such researchers. I think not only access to the published articles is important, but also the possibility to publish them is crucial.

Can you please tell us a bit more about your research and your published article?

I am generally interested in how populations, species and communities respond to global change, and in particular climate change. The paper published in Nature Communications looked at behavioural and morphological responses of species across the globe to climate change. We have demonstrated that although such responses are adaptive, they are not fast enough to ensure population persistence on the long term.

Why did you choose to publish OA? What are the benefits?

Publishing OA makes the research widely accessible. The problem often arises if one wants to read a particular article but the research institution does not have subscription to that specific journal. To me as a researcher publishing OA means a higher chance that my work will be read and that it might affect policy decision-making or inspire future research. In general, OA is of great value to the research community because the progress in science is largely incremental and necessarily requires the knowledge on the previous achievements. Thus, OA promotes science as a collective endeavour. Similarly, studies published OA are freely accessible to the much wider public (not only scientists), and hopefully could increase public awareness about some research topics.

What are some of the challenges you face as part of research promotion? What has been the impact of publishing OA on your research and career potentially?

I have difficulties answering this question. There are a few papers of mine that seem to be not that well read. But when thinking about them I am not sure the primary problem there is whether they were published OA. I rather think the issue there is a highly technical research and also of a very narrow focus. 

Have you published OA before? What has been your experience so far with OA? How easy is it to publish OA? Were there any challenges?

I have published OA on several occasions earlier. In general I have made a good experience when publishing OA. I have an impression the manuscripts are  getting published faster if they are  OA, but of course there is variation among the journals.

How did you identify funds to publish OA? How easy is it to get funding?

There are specific funds at our research institution for publishing OA. Importantly, these funds are usually limited to a certain amount per paper, which often does not cover the OA costs required at some journals. However, a pleasant lesson I have learnt with Nature Communications was that if the journal is aware of such limitations on the part of the institution, they can offer very helpful waivers (in my case it was for the larger amount of costs).

Do you think OA is important in your subject area and if so why?

Yes, OA is important because in many parts of the world ecological sciences are not as well financed as some other research fields. Therefore, being able to access and read the recent literature in the field is a luxury in some countries. Importantly though, those countries are often the ones that face the largest environmental problems and understanding how biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is affected in those regions is of prime importance. 

Why did you choose Springer Nature or the particular journal to publish OA?

Nature Communications is an OA journal, so that by choosing it we were automatically publishing our work OA.

What would be your advice to others thinking of publishing OA?

I would encourage doing so. Also, I strongly recommend checking with the home research institution and with the journal whether there are ways to cover the publication costs. Often there are possibilities to cover the publication fees about which we are not aware and because of that we do not even dare considering to publish OA.

From January 2020, corresponding authors affiliated with a German university or research institution are entitled to publish OA in our journals with fees covered by the German DEAL agreement. The agreement includes more than 2,000 hybrid journals (from January 2020) and more than 500 fully OA journals (from August 2020) across the Springer Nature portfolio. 

Learn more about open access and open research and discover the options offered at Springer Nature.

About Dr. Viktoriia Radchuk

During my Bachelor at the National Agricultural University of Ukraine (Kyiv) I studied Ecology and Environmental protection. I was then lucky to get a Scholarship for doing my MSc in Environmental Sciences at Wageningen University (Netherlands). Following that I completed a PhD in biological sciences under the supervision of Prof. Nicolas Schtickzelle at Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium). My PhD Thesis focused on assessing the population viability of two endangered butterfly species in Belgium, by developing population dynamics models of different complexity. My following post-doctoral positions (in Hedmark University College, Norway; German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig, Germany; and Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research -IZW - in Berlin, Germany) broadened by research interests from populations to communities. I am especially fascinated by stability of populations and communities and by mechanisms underlying the stability of a system. Indeed, I believe that understanding those mechanisms will allow us to better preserve the biodiversity in face of multiple stressors experienced under currently undergoing global change. Investigation of such stability mechanisms across organisation levels is the focus of my current research as a senior scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), Berlin. 

Roza Sakellaropoulou

Author: Roza Sakellaropoulou

Roza is a Brand Engagement and Marketing Manager in the Open Research team, and she is based in London. Letting the research community and especially researchers know about the benefits that open research has is her main focus.