Thoughts about Publication Requirements and Open Access Journals

Happy Friday, dear readers. I hope that you had a lovely week and that you have a lovely weekend planned. It has been a very busy quarter here, wrapping up in the next few weeks. I’m almost finished with end-of-the-year reports, grading, and the like and am looking forward to summer. Summer is a great time to catch up on writing and work on research projects. But now that I’m looking to wrap up a few research projects and begin a new one, I’m left pondering the question of where to publish and how it affects my work as an academic librarian.

At my university, librarians have faculty status and go through the retention, tenure, and promotion process. Therefore, we are expected to complete research and publish in peer-reviewed journals. I actually like this requirement as I like researching and contributing to the knowledge base in the fields. But what I do have issues with is deciding to which journal I should submit my articles. And this is an issue, not because I don’t know the aims and scopes of the journals in my field, or which journals publish research that is along the same vein as my own, or even that I’m not aware of the prestige of different journals. It’s an issue because of the conflicting interests of publishing in a “publish or perish” environment that recognizes prestige of a journal versus my own desire to support open access journals by publishing my work there.

I support the open access movement and love that more journals, such as C&RL, have gone to an open access model of publication in our field. I have been a member of the Evidence Summaries team for a number of years for the journal, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, and love that anyone can read the journal and my work. I do think it is wrong that many publishers charge so much for journal subscriptions, both for libraries and for individual subscribers. I would love to publish all my work in open access journals.

However, I also recognize the reality that many of the top-ranked and well-regarded journals, with a large readership, in our fields of libraries, information science, and archives are not part of the open access movement. I also am aware that publishing in these journals is seen by many in academia as, if not a requirement, then a very important signal that your work is of value and at a high level of scholarship. And since my career is in academia and I am in a position to be tenured and promoted through the faculty lines, the prestige of journals is a consideration when publishing.

How does one then resolve these issues? What concern trumps the other? Publish in open access journals and hope the academia moves in time to see open access as a necessary change in the publishing model and valid? Or publish in journals with prestige that are not open access because of the pressures of academia?

So I suppose I’m wondering how others have resolved this dilemma for themselves. I’d love to hear about it in comments.

Thank you, dear readers, and I’ll write again soon. Allons-y!

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