Publishing research online

The power of open access in research publishing

Today's blog comes from Andy Tolmie, Chair of the BPS Research Board.

20 March 2023

By Research Board

Over recent years, we’ve been increasing the BPS’s commitment to open science and making sure that the high quality psychology research published in our journals from authors across the world is available for people across society to read.

Open access, part of the open science movement, is a publishing model that makes research available to readers online, for free, as opposed to the traditional subscription model in which readers have access to scholarly information by paying a subscription (usually via their institutional libraries).

In 2022, we saw the number of open access papers published across our journals increase by 55 per cent, demonstrating the importance of this shift to a more transparent and equitable way of disseminating research.

Open science helps to open up our discipline to more people than ever before, and also encourages scientific rigour by allowing more researchers to access papers and replicate research, making sure that published research is open to the scrutiny of the psychological community.

As one of the three pillars of open science, open access is vital to our commitment, and I’m delighted that the society will be taking a huge leap forward in 2024 with a transition to a primarily online model for its 11 journals, which are published in partnership with Wiley.

True open access depends fundamentally on online publication, as it’s the only practical means of guaranteeing availability to other researchers and the wider public.

While it can feel great to hold a fresh copy of a journal in your hands, the benefits of opening up psychological research in this way will be enormous – and that’s without mentioning the environmental cost of large numbers of printed copies.

The online format also removes a significant constraint on how much work can be published, with space no longer the issue that it is in a printed journal which only runs to a certain number of pages.

It removes any pressure for selective or potentially biased publication, ensuring not just open availability but true open access to a full and balanced range of research, including replications and negative results.

Open sharing of this kind promotes better research on the back of a more complete awareness of other related work, and it facilitates more accurate public understanding.

As Chair of the Research Board, I’m delighted that the BPS journals are progressing towards full open science in psychology, and hope that everyone who currently reads our journals will continue to do so online, with even more content and functionality to enjoy.

I’m also pleased that a print-on-demand option will be available for those who particularly want a physical copy, allowing us to both meet the needs of individuals and strengthen our commitment to an open access future in psychology.

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