Initiatives focused on increasing access to education and research, and reducing barriers towards them, have taken on more importance within the last two years. This is partly due to changes in research funding and assessment, which have made open access publishing compulsory for eligibility under the Research Excellence Framework. Further to this, open access publishing may act as a catalyst for increased awareness of other initiatives, due to the similarities between open initiatives. Because of this increased requirement to participate in open initiatives, it is important to study how academic and research staff understand open initiatives, and which factors influence staff participation.
Participation in individual open initiatives, such as open access publishing (Eger et al, 2015) and open educational resources (Hilton, 2016), has been well-studied, finding generally similar attitudes and perceptions towards each. However, little research has investigated multiple open ideas within the same study, meaning how an individual’s attitude and participation may differ between initiatives is unknown.
This study used a questionnaire to explore the attitudes of 67 UWE staff volunteers, supported by interviews with four staff members. A regression model was used to predict the influence of staff knowledge, confidence, alignment with open ideas, and optimism on their participation levels. Participant’s level of knowledge about open initiatives was the largest influence on their participation. While participants’ agreement with open ideas was generally high, suggesting they valued the idea of working openly in theory, participants’ actual activity levels did not match this expressed support. This was due to a variety of practical barriers to participation, which mostly reflected the barriers found in earlier research on individual open initiatives. Reinforcing the findings of Belikov and Bodily (2016), participants knew a variety of resources were available but did not know how to effectively find them.
The study concludes with directions for research, and recommendations for future policy developments, such as the potential value of an Open Educational Practice policy. It also discussed the importance of communication and knowledge transfer within UWE, based on research by Xia et al (2012) which showed how open policies require support from institutional communication about open initiatives to be effective.
Belikov, O.,& Bodily, R.(2016) Incentives and barriers to OER adoption: A qualitative analysis of faculty perceptions. Open Praxis, 8 (3), 235-246.
Eger, T., Scheufen, M. and Meierrieks, D.(2015) The determinants of open access publishing: Survey evidence from Germany. European Journal of Law and Economics [online], 39 (3), 475-503.
Hilton, J.L.(2016) Open Educational Resources and college textbook choices; a review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development [online], 64 (4), 573-590.
Xia, J., Gilchrist, S.B., Smith, N.X., Kingery, J.A., Radecki, J.R., Wilhelm, M.L., Harrison, K.C., Ashby, M.L. and Mahn, A.J., (2012) A review of open access self-archiving mandate policies. Libraries and the Academy. 12(1), 85-102.