Open Access Champions an der LUH: Prof. Russell Cox

In der Reihe “Open Access Champions” stellen wir Mitglieder der Leibniz Universität Hannover (LUH) vor, die sich besonders für Open Access engagieren. Dafür haben wir ihnen jeweils fünf Fragen gestellt.

Russell Cox is an organic chemist who works at the interface of organic chemistry with synthetic biology. He was trained in the UK and Canada and became a full professor at the University of Bristol in the UK, before moving to the Institute for Organic Chemistry and the Centre of Biomolecular Drug Research (BMWZ) at LUH in 2013 as University Professor for Microbiological Chemistry. His group investigate the synthesis of drugs and agrochemicals by fungi, and engineer the biosynthesis of new bioactive compounds.

Why do you publish Open Access?

Simple: Open Access publications are downloaded, read and cited more often. We use public funds for our research and the results should be of the widest benefit to the widest possible readership.

In which situations has Open Access proven to be helpful for you?

As a busy scientist, I need quick and easy access to the scientific literature. Even the biggest university libraries do not maintain subscriptions to all possible journals, so availability of open access papers means I can quickly download and read the information I need. Hitting paywalls is frustrating and wastes time and resources.

Hitting paywalls is frustrating and wastes time and resources.

How do you see the current and future situation of Open Access in your field?

Open Access grows continually. Many traditional journals now offer a hybrid publishing model, and many hybrid journals switch to fully Open Access models.  Most new journals in my field are Open Access from the beginning. I experienced this as the editor in chief of RSC Advances when we switched from a hybrid model to a 100% Gold Open Access system in 2017. We now publish around 5000 Open Access papers per year illustrating the level of demand.

What obstacles do you see for a complete transition to Open Access?

There are unfortunately some ‘predator’ journals that exist primarily as vehicles for financial profit, that purposely confuse the distinctions between ‘Open Access’ and ‘Pay to Publish’. It is important to select publishers who have very strong ethical credentials, and who maintain rigorous reviewing and editorial standards. This costs money, and is the reason for article processing charges (APCs). Society publishers, such as the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK, maintain these high standards, while keeping APCs as low as possible (and free in some cases). Society journals such as RSC Advances can also offer APC reductions and waivers for authors in disadvantaged countries. The choice between ‘Society’ and ‘Commercial’ publishers therefore remains an important one!

Where do you find or expect support for Open Access publishing and the Open Access transformation?

Open Access publishing will become the major scientific publication format in the future. The transition away from the traditional subscription modes can be confusing and messy, but most universities and funding bodies now strongly support (and fund) open access publication through supporting APCs. Publishers can be flexible and it is always worth negotiating the APC – big discounts are available in some cases! Wherever possible I try to select Open Accessing publication in a society journal and LUH has supported me very well in that aim.