Next in The Open Access Stories - an interview with Torsten Reimer, Scholarly Communications Officer at Imperial College London!

Scholastica welcomes Jesper Sørensen to The Open Access Stories blog series! Share this story and your own on Twitter by using the hashtag - #MyOAStory.

Jesper Sørensen is the Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professor and Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Professor in the Department of Sociology (by courtesy). He is Editor-in-Chief of Sociological Science, an open-access, online, peer-reviewed, international journal for social scientists committed to advancing a general understanding of social processes.

My OA Story: Q&A with Jesper Sørensen

Can you briefly explain the aims and scope of Sociological Science and how and why you came to launch the journal as an OA publication?

JS: One of our major goals in launching Sociological Science was to improve the quality of scholarly discourse in sociology. In our view, too many debates in the field were hidden from view and were too slow to evolve. Emerging research agendas and debates were caught up in a lengthy, drawn-out, multiple-round peer review process where points of disagreement were settled behind the veil of blind peer review. Our view was that science is best served by openness and transparency, and that progress comes about through honest disagreements in public. Open Access is a critical part of this process; all researchers, not just those who have a subscription, should be able to engage with and debate with work as it evolves.

What are your hopes for the journal both in terms of having an impact in your field and as part of the OA Movement? How do you think Sociological Science is making a difference?

JS: In terms of the field, our primary hope is that we will publish work that has an impact on the kinds of work that sociologists do, and that is accessible to the public and policy makers. I think we are beginning to have this kind of impact. Generally, our hope is that we start to see a more widespread acceptance of the idea that science is a process, and that publication in a journal is not the final word. Our emphasis on turn-around time helps to make the work we publish more relevant to current events (one paper we recently published was cited in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court soon after we published it), and the OA format makes it easy for such work to have an impact.

What are your thoughts on the outlook of OA publishing - how far have we come and how far do we still need to go?

JS: I am optimistic about OA’s future: as more and more scholars have the experience of publishing in OA journals, and seeing what it does to the ways in which others can engage with their work, I think enthusiasm for it will increase. The major challenges are related to career incentives of scholars (since the most prestigious journals in most fields are currently not OA), a lack of familiarity with the economics of publishing (authors often don’t understand that if journals do not charge subscription fees, they have to cover their costs in some other way), and a potential for OA to be co-opted by for-profit publishers (much of the enthusiasm for OA comes from readers who cannot afford access, but a shift to OA with extreme publication fees would limit scholars’ access to publishing opportunities).

We’d like to thank Jesper Sørensen for taking the time to be apart of The Open Access Stories series! For more information on how Sociological Science got started and tips from Jesper on how to launch a new OA journal check out Finding a Niche as a New Open Access Journal!

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