Pledge to direct your reviewing efforts towards open access outlets


Direct your volunteer reviewing efforts toward open access

I pledge to devote most of my reviewing and editing efforts to manuscripts destined for open access. For other manuscripts, I will restrict myself to one review by me for each review obtained for me by an outlet that is not open access.

Here, manuscripts destined for open access mean those that the authors or journal post on institutional or university repositories, or those that are made open access by the publisher within 12 months. Because I believe that access to publicly funded research should be free, I will also support open access in other ways.

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Reasons to pledge


  1. Contributing more to open access outlets than closed outlets gently pushes the system towards open access.
  2. Provide a model of action that others can easily adopt. As it stands, many sympathizers aren’t sure what they should do.
  3. Make more people realize how many of us believe in open access.
  4. Taking a stand helps us as stick to our guns and not get caught up as much in the closed journal game. We need help with this because the incentives in academia favor the closed outlets.
  5. Making yourself known as an open access supporter helps open access outlets find reviewers and editors.

Pledgers’ response to reviewing request

Dear Journal/Editor, I have pledged to spend the majority of my time reviewing for open-access outlets, and have already reached my limit for closed outlets this year. I can only agree to review this manuscript if the publisher agrees to make it open access within 12 months, as most publishers already do for papers presenting NIH-funded research, or if the authors post a pre-print in an institutional or university repository.

Not convinced?

For many of us, a guiding principle is that taxpayers and students paid for our research, so they ought to be able to read it. I don’t see any insurmountable obstacles remaining to achieve open access for almost all academic research. But progress toward that goal has been slow. For the reasons given above, the pledge would accelerate progress.

Arriving at this version of the pledge has been a struggle. Every researcher has their own priorities and constraints. I’ve tried to create a pledge that lots can sign onto, while still including a specific concrete commitment rather than just things like I will attempt to… or I will try to… The hoped-for result is a mass of people having made a specific commitment, which might make more of a splash than a vague pledge. So I hope you’ll sign on even if something best for you would be broader or have different emphasis.

There are many ways to support open access. One good step is ensuring that even the content of your closed-journal papers are freely accessible, and on a official website indexed systematically by academic search engines. Deposit the final draft of your articles (this version is owned by you even if you sign away copyright of a journal’s typeset version) in your institution’s repository. Stevan Harnad explains in this presentation.