In an age of open access to research policies: Physician and public health NGO staff research use and policy awareness

Laura L. Moorhead, Cheryl Holzmeyer, Lauren A. Maggio, Ryan M. Steinberg, John Willinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Through funding agency and publisher policies, an increasing proportion of the health sciences literature is being made open access. Such an increase in access raises questions about the awareness and potential utilization of this literature by those working in health fields. Methods: A sample of physicians (N=336) and public health non-governmental organization (NGO) staff (N=92) were provided with relatively complete access to the research literature indexed in PubMed, as well as access to the point-of-care service UpToDate, for up to one year, with their usage monitored through the tracking of web-log data. The physicians also participated in a one-month trial of relatively complete or limited access. Results: The study found that participants' research interests were not satisfied by article abstracts alone nor, in the case of the physicians, by a clinical summary service such as UpToDate. On average, a third of the physicians viewed research a little more frequently than once a week, while two-thirds of the public health NGO staff viewed more than three articles a week. Those articles were published since the 2008 adoption of the NIH Public Access Policy, as well as prior to 2008 and during the maximum 12-month embargo period. A portion of the articles in each period was already open access, but complete access encouraged a viewing of more research articles. Conclusion: Those working in health fields will utilize more research in the course of their work as a result of (a) increasing open access to research, (b) improving awareness of and preparation for this access, and (c) adjusting public and open access policies to maximize the extent of potential access, through reduction in embargo periods and access to pre-policy literature.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0129708
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 22 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

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