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The quandary between communication and certification: Individual academics’ views on Open Access and open scholarship

Xiang Ren (Australian Digital Futures Institute, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 14 September 2015




The purpose of this paper is to understand individual academics’ perception, attitudes and participation in Open Access Publishing and open scholarship and revisit some principles and designs of openness in academic publishing from the perspective of creative end-users, which helps to increase the sustainability and efficiency of open models.


This paper draws on a case study of China and empirical data collected through semi-structured interviews with a wide range of academics and stakeholders.


A separation between the communication and certification functions of publishing is identified: open initiatives are valued for efficient and interactive communication while traditional publishing still dominates the legitimacy of research publications, which leads to the quandary of individual academics operating within the transitional landscape of scholarly communication.

Practical implications

Practical recommendations for sustainable and efficient openness are derived from discussions on the difficulties associated open/social certification and the shifting maxims that govern academics from “publish or perish” to “be visible or vanish”.


“Openness” is defined in broad sense integrating Open Access and open scholarship to comprehensively reflect individual academics’ views in the transitional landscape of academic publishing. The research findings suggest that new open approaches are needed to address the evolving tension and conflicts between communication and certification.



The author wishes to thank all the participants in this research and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful and constructive comments on previous versions of this paper.


Ren, X. (2015), "The quandary between communication and certification: Individual academics’ views on Open Access and open scholarship", Online Information Review, Vol. 39 No. 5, pp. 682-697.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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