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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of editorial boards of scholarly journals on the green and the gold road to open access Alzahrani, Saad


The traditional subscription-based publishing system of scholarly journals is in crisis, and open access has been suggested as an alternative model. However, participants in the traditional publishing system are engaged in a debate on its feasibility as a replacement for subscription-based journals. As the gatekeepers who determine what is published in scholarly journals, editorial boards play an important role in scholarly communication. However, although there are some studies of their role in scholarly publishing no major study has focused on their role in influencing journal access polices, and in particular, their role in influencing journal policies to make some or all articles free or to allow self-archiving by authors. Through a survey of editors and editorial board members of major scholarly journals, this study explores their role in the open access movement. It examines the positions of the major publishers of scholarly journals (categorized as commercial, scholarly society and university publishers) to open access. In addition, it examines the awareness of journals’ editorial boards of their publisher’s access polices and whether their own attitudes to open access were consistent with those of their publishers. Editorial boards’ behaviour as a force for change in setting open access policies is explored. The study also considers how their level of responsibility at the journal and their own open access publishing behaviour are related to their perception and promotion of open access. The findings of this study show no clear-cut difference between categories of journal publisher in term of offering some or all of their articles free to users, and in allowing authors to self-archive. The respondents in this study demonstrated some awareness about journal access policies, with higher awareness of policies regarding offering free articles than of those on self-archiving. The majority of the respondents are satisfied with subscription-based journals although their opinion on offering free articles and on self-archiving is generally positive. They were not willing to take strong measures to influence journal access policies such as resigning from the editorial board. The level of responsibility at the journal, gender, and publishing behaviour influenced the respondent’s answers to the questionnaire.

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