The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Open Access in the Social Work Scholarly Literature: Exploring Its Extent and Importance for Socially Just and Evidence-Based Practice

Sunday, January 20, 2013: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
Seabreeze 1 and 2 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Elizabeth A. Bowen, AM, LCSW, University of Illinois at Chicago, Mark A. Mattaini, DSW, University of Illinois at Chicago, Kerry Dunn, PhD, University of New England, Mark W. Fraser, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Lorraine M. Gutierrez, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Susan Mason, PhD, Yeshiva University and Bruce A. Thyer, PhD, Florida State University
The evidence-based practice (EBP) paradigm requires practitioners to take the best available knowledge into account when making decisions. Thus, access to knowledge including current research findings published in professional journals is essential to EBP. While the extensive digitization of knowledge has facilitated access for many, the corporatization of serials publishing and subsequent escalating subscription costs pose substantial barriers. Across disciplines, a movement for open access has coalesced, calling for the sharing of knowledge as part of the “Commons” through the publication of articles in online journals that charge no subscription or access fees, and through archiving policies that permit authors to republish their work in personal or institutional online archives.

The purpose of this roundtable is to discuss the extent and nature of open access in the social work scholarly literature, explore factors that may facilitate or hinder the expansion of open access, and examine knowledge access as both a key element of EBP and a social justice issue. To inform the discussion, the first two presenters will share findings from a recently completed study on the extent of open access in 85 peer-reviewed social work journals. Data was gathered on the journals’ publishers, 2011 subscription costs, archiving policies, and other access policies. Each journal was classified as fully open access, if all content was available online to the public for free; limited open access, if only select articles were freely available or if open access was limited to select countries; or no open access. The findings indicate high annual subscription costs, averaging $127 for individual subscriptions and $595 for institutional subscriptions. Only nine journals were classified as fully open access, while 29 provided limited access and the remaining journals (n = 47) provided no open access.  A brief elaboration of the multiple economic models being used to support open access will be included. 

Given the relative dearth of open access in social work, the first presenter will moderate a panel discussion with the other six presenters, all of whom are editors of well-known social work journals, on factors that may facilitate or inhibit the growth of open access.  The presenters as well as attendees at the roundtable will be encouraged to share their perspectives as authors, reviewers, and editors for journals offering various access levels. The discussion will include potential inhibiting factors (e.g., awareness, economics, promotion and tenure considerations), and how these have been addressed in social work and other disciplines.

The roundtable will conclude with a discussion of the importance of access to knowledge in terms of the EBP paradigm and social work values. Presenters and attendees will discuss the implications of knowledge access for the processes underlying EBP and for the advancement of ethical and socially just social work practice. Through this roundtable, it is our goal to increase understanding of open access for researchers considering different ways of disseminating their findings, and for students, educators, and practitioners committed to sharing and accessing the knowledge and information needed for EBP in policy, administration, and clinical work.

See more of: Roundtables