Benefits of open access book publishing for early career researchers
This article discusses the particular benefits of open access book publishing with respect to distribution, online portfolios and impact and ethics for early career researchers, while addressing important challenges of publishing open access.
Why is open access publishing important for early career researchers (ECRs)?
Early career researchers are increasingly drawn to open access publishing as it not only facilitates career advancement through the dissemination of research but it also responds to the growing demand on authors to establish an online presence and satisfies an increased desire for ethical commitment (Roscoe, 2020).
As an early career researcher, you can also benefit from the broader advantages of open access, which apply to all researchers, including global geographical distribution and readership reach, higher impact and citation rates, equity, innovative metrics and the retainment of copyright (See Why publish an open access book?).
The creation of an online portfolio allows you to benefit from open access publishing by achieving greater visibility through self-promotion (See Self-promotion).
Impact and ethics
Open access publishing will allow you to expand repertories of scholarly communication, thereby promoting transparency and reproducibility. For example, you can share your findings as a way of “giving back to the community", while relevant stakeholders, including those in industry, policy, advocacy and activism, have a greater chance of accessing your work (Early Career Researchers Advisory Board for Wellcome Open Research, 2020; Miller, 2015).
The challenges of open access book publishing which you may face as an early career researcher include imposed restrictions on flexibility of publishing, necessary costs such as book processing charges, time investment such as curating your own online portfolio, and the emerging “incentive structure” (Allen & Mehler, 2019).
If you are looking to publish your first book, you should consider both the advantages and disadvantages of publishing with a university press, a commercial or scholar-led publisher. In certain disciplines, publishing your first book with a university press is considered a mark of distinction, whereas in other disciplines, this is inconsequential.
If you are looking to establish yourself as an early career researcher, do not be put off by misinformation about open access publishing. Myths, such as open access books being of poor quality, are gradually being dispelled thanks to the increased production of high-quality open access books and the growing number of funders who mandate open access for books. In some cases, early career researchers have become early-adopters of open access, as they seek to connect with relevant communities and stakeholders.
When considering a potential publisher, you should enquire about quality assurance, peer review procedures, editorial guidance and the degree of copy-editing, marketing and promotion support which you will receive. You should also be aware that open access publishing has become increasingly commercialised (See How to choose a publisher for your open access book).
Please note that some publishers do not deliver the rigour of academic scrutiny expected of scholarly publishing nor provide appropriate standards of service, which may limit the visibility of your publication. This is sometimes referred to as ‘’Predatory publishing’’, seeking to take advantage of your receptivity to open access (Berger, 2017), and, under the auspices of “public value”, may mislead you into publishing material in bogus outlets (Holmwood, 2018).