The American Educational Research Association is joining the ranks of open-access research with a new journal, AERA Open, expected to begin publishing early next year. It does not yet have an editor.
"Scientific societies are rethinking how to widen access to knowledge," said Felice Levine, AERA'a executive director, in a statement on the journal. "We are eager to experiment with change that is valuable and sustainable."
Open access may help to get study findings to educators faster, thus making them more relevant to policy and practice decisions. The new AERA journal also will incorporate access to supplemental information for articles, including: measurement instruments and protocols, video and audio recordings, and interactive data tables.
Open access is looking more and more like the future of research publishing; one study found 17 percent of the 1.66 million articles published in 2011 were published in this way.
Earlier this spring, AERA voiced support but also some concerns about President Obama's policy directive requiring all federal agencies that spend at least $100 million on research and development (including both the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation) and to make plans to disseminate the results of that research publicly. And the bipartisan Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act floating in Congress would require open access for all federally funded research.
"Professors, teachers, and students need access to the newest research findings in order to keep the United States in the forefront as the leader of scientific research and development globally," said Rosanne Aversa, a librarian at Curry College in Milton, Mass., wrote in response to the President's open-access initiative. "As more and more high-quality, cutting-edge research is published in electronic versions only, we risk restricting this knowledge to a limited few who are affiliated with institutions that can afford subscriptions to expensive databases if we do not publish publicly."
While open access definitely makes it cheaper and easier for educators to keep up with current research, it might also make publishing harder on the researchers themselves during tight budget times. Like most open-access journals, AERA Open will follow a different publishing model from subscription-based journals, charging researchers fees of $400-$700 for each article accepted, with fees waived for researchers in nations with low-income economies.
"I think open access is a terrific idea—in theory," said Matthew Gibson, director of digital programs at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, in a separate comment submitted on the President's open-access initiative. "Where it runs aground is where digital projects/publications have a mandate both to be open access AND self-sustaining (i.e. have a business model that can support daily and expanded operating costs). I don't know what the answer is but perhaps forcing all digital programs into granting open access to their final product has unfortunate consequences as far as making sure that the content produced today will still be available tomorrow."
So, here's a question to education researchers out there: What do you think of open-access publishing? Would you be willing to pay fees for publication in AERA Open in order to get your findings to more educators faster?