Survey Results on Open Access Themes

The following post is in reference to a survey given in May 2018. For more information, see previous posts on our Survey Methodology, Survey Demographics, and Survey Questions & Reflections (the full survey is available for download and reuse under a CC0 license).

As part of our survey, we wanted to learn more about how our community approaches a few open access issues, such as having an open access requirement, retaining rights when publishing, and sharing non-final versions of a work. While there will certainly be more posts that touch on open access themes, this one directly addresses a few of these specific questions on our survey. We will be posting on other themes in the future.

The University of Pennsylvania faculty released a Faculty Open-Access Statement of Principles for Scholarly Articles in 2011 but does not have an open access requirement. In our survey, we asked participants to about their position on having a policy at Penn:

Faculty at Harvard, MIT, and many other universities have passed policies requiring faculty publications be made freely available through their libraries with an option to opt out. What would be your position on implementing a similar policy at Penn?
(Answer options: Strongly in favor, Somewhat in favor, Somewhat opposed, Strongly opposed)

Of the 309 people who answered this survey question, 94% were in favor of implementing an open access policy at Penn, with 68% strongly in favor. Of those 309, 188 (61%) had never heard of or used ScholarlyCommons, but the percent in favor was nearly identical – 93% in favor, with 68% strongly in favor.

Looking at specific populations, faculty (tenured and tenure track) closely followed this pattern (93% in favor, with 62% strongly in favor), and all 68 graduate students who answered this question were in favor of an open access policy, with none opposed.

OA policy all
All respondents
OA policy No SC
Respondents who had never heard of or used ScholarlyCommons
OA policy T&TT
Faculty (tenured and tenure track)
OA policy grad
Graduate students (professional and research)

We also asked participants about their publishing and licensing practices. While most respondents did not report using author addenda, negotiating contracts, or using open licenses, I was surprised to see how many did report employing (or attempting to employ) these strategies. I found it particularly interesting that graduate student respondents seemed to be more willing to share non-final versions of their works and apply open licenses but none had used an author addendum or negotiated a publishing contract.

Below are 3 survey questions related to publishing and licensing practices. For each question, there is a set of 3 responses: All respondents, faculty (tenured, tenure track, and non-tenure track), and graduate students (professional and research).

When you have entered into a formal agreement with a publisher, have you ever…
(Answer options for each: Yes, No, I don’t know, Not Applicable [not reported below])

  • Used an author addendum (such as the SPARC author addendum), even if it was not accepted
  • Chosen to publish under an open license (such as a Creative Commons license)
  • Negotiated your agreement to hold on to more of your author rights, even if it was not successful
Agreements all
All respondents
Agreements fac
Agreements grad
Graduate students


When you’ve distributed your works online, have you ever applied usage licenses (e.g., Creative Commons, GNU, Public Domain designation)?
(Answer options: Yes, No, I don’t know, Not Applicable [not reported below])


CC all
All respondents (238 total)
CC fac
Faculty (161 total)
CC grad
Graduate students (31 total)


Many publishers do not allow the final version of journal articles or book chapters to be posted online. If you are an author, how comfortable are you sharing a non-final version of your work online? (Note: Respondents could answer both preprints and postprints if they so chose. Answer options are simplified in results below to Preprint, Postprint, Final version ONLY, and Not an author.)

  • I’m comfortable sharing my preprints (i.e., the version of your work before peer-review)
  • I’m comfortable sharing my postprints (i.e., the version of your work after peer-review but before publisher edits and formatting have been applied)
  • I don’t feel comfortable sharing anything expect the final published version
  • I am not an author
posting all
All respondents (358 total)
posting fac
Faculty (213 total)
posting grad
Graduate students (68 total)

3 thoughts on “Survey Results on Open Access Themes

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