Can Open Access Journals transform Market Research?

Open Access is research for all

Open Access was developed as a movement in the academic research to free-up knowledge and it has been adopted over the Internet.

Open access means unrestricted access to resources and sharing them with peers in the context of academic research.  A large number of scholars are adopting this practice mainly by publishing on the Internet which reduced the publishing and circulation costs.

But beyond the research circles, how can open access be adopted in the business environment? Prima facie, the philosophy of business and open access are at loggerheads. One promotes profits by competition whereas the other emphasises on sharing and collaboration. It is the application of research into practice, especially for those in market research that opens up the prospects of leveraging open flow of information in the business.

open access logo

Many different “open” methods trace their origins to open source or free software paradigm. Free software movement started in 1980s against the practice of limiting the access to the source code of a software. Over the years it has shown that free availability of the resource does not impact the economic benefit of the entities operating in this sphere. The selling proposition for the companies became services rather than the products.

In the past open source generated a significant interest among the software enthusiasts. Open source delved into the concepts of open design, open data, open access and many other “open” movements that focused on increasing transparency and information sharing. The underlying theme for these movements has been to free-up knowledge for a larger social benefit.

Open data is growing; open access too…

Similar to open data, open access provides several opportunities that has enabled commercial enterprises to use government data for business.

Open data has empowered many to analyse and come up with interesting products and services. From retrieving data spread across different locations, open data shifts the balance towards making sense out of available data. The open data project of many governments have brought about more transparency in public systems. In 2009, the US government started a website to release a lot of government data in the public domain.

Many use data from these sources to make economic gains, like Aidin, a healthcare company based in New York that access data from Department of Health and Human Services to give better services to the patients availing post-acute care. A list of 500 companies in the US brought out by the Governance Lab of the New York University shows the extent to which open data has penetrated into the commercial enterprises. The fundamental idea behind opening up data is to ease the access of information and to enforce creation of information which can be read by both machines and humans.

open-access-diagram2

 

Open Data Compass: Chart from Open Data 500 that maps Federal Agencies with Companies that use the data from these sources

Open access is related to open data in terms of providing larger accessibility to academic research. The academic publishing dominated by a few journal publishers has started providing options for open access options to the authors. The revenue for the publishers in this mode is solely from the article processing charges which involves facilitating peer-review of the article. The drop in revenue resulting from zero subscription charges is minimised by maintaining a higher article processing charge. But there has also been a lot of open access publishing outside of the traditional journal publishers.

Researchers have the option of “Gold Open Access”, whereby they publish their papers in open access journals, “Green Open Access” where the published journal articles are hosted in a public repository or web pages for public use or make use of “hybrid” open access services where individual articles in subscription journals are made open access. The rigour of peer-review in open access journals is not compromised.

Better market research with open access

Academic research provides strong content, models and tools for market research. Open access makes this transition into practice truly competitive, without any barriers to the information.

Academic researchers play an important role in diffusing the techniques developed by them among the marketing practitioners and intermediary organisations. A study published by International Journal of Research in Marketing explores the relationship between marketing science research and marketing practitioners. There is a dissonance between the various stakeholders in terms of the areas where the marketing research have higher impacts. Nevertheless, the techniques such as segmentation tools were results of the research in marketing.

open-access-diagram3

Source: University of the Western Cape Library Blog

The products and tools that marketing professionals use are derived from the academic research and this involves collaboration between the industry and academic experts. The 20 articles identified by the study to have had the most impact among marketing practitioners are restricted by subscription. The journals which publish these studies have also been viewed by a lesser number of practitioners indicating that the the ideas flow in limited spaces with higher sophistication. Accepting open access in research paradigm would improve the dissemination of ideas among a larger group of enterprising individuals who lack financial resources.

The marketers and businesses have to be keen on garnering the benefits of open access. It benefits everyone and therefore implies that one has to be smarter in making sense of the resources that are available to everyone. The unfair advantage one might have in terms of exclusive ownership of information, “more money, more subscriptions” in plain words, would be rendered useless if a large number of academic publishers move towards open access.

open-access-diagram4
Source: Inspired Selection

The foray of analytics in this space has been marked by the inquiries into understanding the extent of the research output. Analytics firms have partnered with organisations that mandate an open access policy to measure the engagement through “alternative metrics”. When the traditional metric used in measuring the research impact was citations, the approach of alternative metrics leverage the opportunities provided by social media and blogging. But open access offer much more to market research where the research output can be used to find newer techniques of primary research and at the same time opening up an ocean of knowledge for free.

Directory of Open Access Journals lists more than 10,000 open access journals and about 125 journals that deal with marketing directly, as of today. The repositories that aggregate open access research works will be valuable tools for marketers in future. Open data that has grabbed the attention of various industries and MIT Open CourseWare, which has helped many self-learners, have spurred more interest in the open movement.

In the past, debate around Open Access mostly revolved around academic research. However, the high visibility of research brought about by open access and the improved practical applications of academic research is something that any market research practitioner might not want to miss in the future. A key factor in the long-term success of open access, is the identification of both financial and non-financial benefits to funding bodies and organizations. In the next blog, we will try and explore different business models that can make the Open Access approach sustainable.

This blog is written by Deepak Johnson, Analytics Consultant at BRIDGEi2i.  

About BRIDGEi2i: BRIDGEi2i provides Business Analytics Solutions to enterprises globally, enabling them to achieve accelerated business impact harnessing the power of data. Our analytics services and technology solutions enable business managers to consume more meaningful information from big data, generate actionable insights from complex business problems and make data driven decisions across pan-enterprise processes to create sustainable business impact. To know more visit www.bridgei2i.com

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of BRIDGEi2i.

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