What is Open Access Publishing about? An Interview with Martin Uhl

Why is open access the future of scientific publishing? Martin Uhl, a former researcher at ZPID (Leibniz-Institute for Psychology Information), introduces the concept. The reason to start with this topic is simple: JEPS supports the idea of open access and therefore all articles published in JEPS are freely available on the internet everywhere in the world without any charge (other than what you pay for your internet connection, of course). Read about the philosophy that many scientists are fascinated about, but so far only few follow.

To introduce the principles of open access to our authors and readers about, the editors of the Journal of European Psychology Students talked to Martin Uhl, who works towards raising awareness about  open access.

JEPS: What does open access stand for?
Martin Uhl: It stands for the worldwide unrestricted access to scientific literature. The internet provides a unique platform for exchanging knowledge. Theoretically, it is possible to access any  information  in any location in the world just within seconds. In reality, however, the access to a big part of information is protected by rights and licenses; information has become the new currency of today’s world. On one hand, it is very important to protect certain information by law to guarantee economic outcome of research and private efforts. Yet on the other hand, if the information has been financed from public resources, the people should own the information. The latter is what open access stands for: the idea, that publicly financed scientific knowledge should be freely accessible by anyone in the world and not only by elite countries and universities able to pay publisher’s subscription fees.

JEPS: What are the advantages of publishing in an open access journal?
Martin Uhl: Visibility and impact. As the article is available online without any restrictions, the probability of  it being read is higher. This in turn alters the likelihood of its impact. If more researches read the work, it is more probable that the work will find its place in new theoretical frameworks and therefore have more citations.

JEPS: The quality of the journals is often measured through the Impact Factor (IF) which takes into account the articles published and the citations collected within the past two years. There are not many OA journals at the top of the list [At least in psychology. Many of the OA journals are so new that cannot have possibly achieved a good IF, however, there are journals that are leading in their field (PLoS Biology) for example. – Ed. ]. What guarantees the quality of the publications in an open access journal?
Martin Uhl: Open access does not mean ‘not edited’ or ‘not peer-reviewed’. Using the golden way of open access publishing, i.e., submitting a manuscript to open access journal where it is peer-reviewed, revised and eventually published, guarantees high quality standards. Alternatively, there is the green way. This means, that a preprint or sometimes postprint of an article is made available within repositories. Most repositories offer a search for high quality (peer-reviewed) articles.

JEPS: What made you interested in OA?
Martin Uhl: I was working in developing countries. They have restricted financial resources and can therefore only maintain basic programs. It is very hard for them to stay in the competition without accessing and exchanging knowledge. Open access is a good solution to foster meaningful contributions to the worldwide pool of knowledge.  We depend on the common effort to develop tomorrow’s technologies together. For example, Brazil and India are among the leading countries in using the open access publishing model.

JEPS: What would you like to say to the JEPS Bulletin readers?
Martin Uhl: It is the task of young scientist to rethink science. Not only to reflect scientific results, but the system in which they are produced. Information exchange has changed dramatically in the last years, publishing models and quality ensuring mechanisms have to follow. Reflect the journals you publish in and consider their publishing model.

JEPS: Thank you!

Read more about open access at: http://www.open-access.net/de_en/homepage/
Interviewers: Sarah Muno and Maris Vainre
Text: Maris Vainre

About the author

Maris Vainre

  • Ivan Flis

    Open Journal System is definitely one of the bigger points because of which I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work for JEPS. Open sourcing scientific journals is one step in the direction of deinstitutionalizing science. I really hope as more and more peer-reviewed journals become freely accessible, those which remain pay-to-view will lose their competitive edge (as they would be more difficult to access, and thus less cited) – which, in turn, will mean the journals will have to find other models of funding than limiting access to information.

    To me, this inequality of limiting the access to scientific journals to only those who can pay is similar to the tuition-heavy model of higher education which limits access to education to only those who can pay. Both of those approaches to science (and education) make us confuse the real goals we have – not to make money, but to create knowledge and educate people. But, especially nowadays, people who are involved in the academia seem to forget that.