A researcher shares her inspirational open access tale

global OA

As part of an interview about a new paper on the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory published in SAGE Open, we asked Anna  Sircova, freelance researcher based in Copenhagen, Denmark why she decided to submit her research to an open access journal as opposed to a traditional, subscription-based journal. Touched by her inspirational tale, we are delighted to be sharing it with our SAGE Connection readers today.

AS-1Why did you decide to submit your new research to an open access journal as opposed to a traditional, subscription-based journal?

There are a few reasons for that. I am a keen supporter of the Open Access movement. Originally I come from Latvia and I did my studies in Russia. Both countries are not very affluent and at the time didn’t have the means to acquire access to subscription-based journals and databases. It was very difficult to find new published research.

In 2000, I was very lucky to attend the International Congress of Psychology in Stockholm and brought back the program with abstracts listed. I went through the whole thing and wrote to everyone whose research I was interested in. It was so scary! I was just a 2nd year student writing to all of those big names in academia, but the response was amazing! Many people sent me their reprints and even books or video material. That was my strategy for many years – I’d find some abstracts online with author’s affiliation mentioned, then I’d do a search for that person on the respective university site and write to the author. Once in a while I’d stumble upon a full article published online and that was bliss!

Can you imagine how I felt when I started my post-doctorate work in Sweden?! One of my first questions was “how do I get to the library?” People were puzzled about why I wanted to go to the library when you can get everything just through one click. I felt it was a totally different planet. Most of all my free time I spent just downloading articles. I was so hungry for information myself, and was helping out my friends and colleagues back in Russia. And I used the library quite extensively.

As a result of these experiences, I strongly believe that scientific information has to be accessible and that we shouldn’t forget that different parts of the world have different possibilities in providing that access.

On the other hand what I’ve noticed is that sometimes papers are produced for the mere purpose of publishing papers and not actually communicating the findings and reaching people and society. Often authors start working on an article by deciding to which journal they would aim to publish. Then they screen articles to see what goes in, how the article is shaped, and whom to cite from that journal, etc. In the end, the article gets shaped for a specific journal and science gets really lost in all this.

I find it all very bizarre. I think that there is no need for “more”, but there is a need for “better”. As a researcher, I don’t want to be judged by the number of papers and in which journals they were published, but rather by the creativity and quality of the research carried out and the applicability and usability of the results.

Moreover, in January 2012 Umeå University started to implement the Open Access policy: “it mandates that all publications shall be registered and deposited in the DiVA system” (http://www.ub.umu.se/en/about/news/open-access-policy-umea-university), which is a self-archiving process, but University also promotes publishing the results in Open Access journals (http://www.ub.umu.se/en/publish/open-access). Since most of the work on this project was done during my stay in Umeå, I happily follow their publishing policies.

To read the rest of our interview with Sircova, click here.

Anna Sircova (born 1980, Riga, Latvia) is a freelance researcher currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Sircova studied clinical psychology, completed her PhD in 2008, Moscow, Russia and her post-doc at Umeå University, Sweden. She is a founder and former leader of Russian Association of Psychology Students, a founder of International Research Network on Time Perspective. Her research interests are within psychological time (both of individual and of a group), tolerance for ambiguity, creativity, complex systems and social simulations. Besides research, Anna is a freelance photographer, founder and creative director of Alternative Copenhagen, is engaged in developing a sustainable business model for hospices and is aiming at creating usable science applying service design principles. She is also learning how to play Persian flute and occasionally dances tango.

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