Open Access Attitudes of Computer Science Professors

My Communications of the ACM came in the main recently, and in an article about the future of scholarly publishing in computer science (in general — and what the ACM Publications Board is thinking about doing), there was this paragraph about the attitudes of a subset of ACM members towards open access publishing.

Open access models are an area of broad interest, and we could fill a dozen columns on different issues related to open access publishing. Based on actions taken by certain research funders (primarily governmental, but also foundations), we have been looking at whether and how to incorporate author-pays open access into ACM’s journals. We asked ACM Fellows about author-pays Gold OA journals, and specifically whether they preferred a Gold “umbrella” journal across computer science vs. Gold-only specialty journals vs. Gold editions of current journals. Gold-only specialty journals were preferred by 15% of Fellows; a Gold umbrella journal by 29%; and Gold editions of existing journals by 45%. Ten percent were against author-pays open access generally, preferring the current model or advocating for non-author-pays open access models.

Note that the ACM Fellows are “the top 1% of ACM members [recognized] for their outstanding accomplishments in computing and information technology and/or outstanding service to ACM and the larger computing community.” So it is hardly a representative sample of computer science professors. They do have a survey form for more broad, if yet unscientific, input on the topic.

I’ve tangled with the ACM editor-in-chief before about the cost of the ACM digital library subscriptions cross-subsidizing other ACM activities. There have been others that have taken the ACM to task for their open access policies. It is good to see the publications committee learning from past missteps, educating then listening to its members, and be willing to consider change in this area.