J Med Libr Assoc 94(4) October 2006449
Awareness and attitude
of Spanish medical authors
to open access publishing and the
‘‘author pays’’ model
By Angel A. Herna ´ndez-Borges, PhD, MD,
Rau ´l Cabrera-Rodrı ´guez, MD, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abia ´n Montesdeoca-Melia ´n, MD, email@example.com
Begon ˜a Martı ´nez-Pineda, MD, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pediatric and Intensive Care Unit—Department of
Neonatology, Hospital Universitario de Canarias Tenerife,
Maria Luisa Torres-A´lvarez de Arcaya, MD,
Primary Care Center La Orotava-Dehesa Servicio Canario
de la Salud, Tenerife, Spain
Alejandro Jime ´nez-Sosa, PhD, Psych, email@example.com
Research Unit, Hospital Universitario de Canarias
Open access publishing (OAP) aims to provide com-
plete and free electronic access to scientific research
articles . Such access may be achieved via (1) open
access journals (i.e., journals permitting free access to
online content), currently around 2% of the total cor-
pus of articles in science, technology, and medicine ;
or (2) self-archiving on institutional or personal Web-
sites, which provides free access to post- or preprint
manuscripts. In addition to universal access to scien-
tific knowledge, the OAP model may result in consid-
erable savings for libraries  and the potential benefit
for authors of greater exposure to their works. How-
ever, to date, citations to OA journals have only slightly
increased compared to subscription-based journals .
With respect to funding, nearly 20% of OAP articles
have been produced by charging authors (or indirectly,
their organizations) through so-called ‘‘publication
fees’’ or ‘‘author fees’’ . The success of such journals
greatly depends on authors’ willingness to submit
their research to such journals despite publication fees
ranging between $350 and $1,000 USD. It is unclear
whether authors, especially first-time and social sci-
ence authors, are reluctant to back OAP journals be-
cause the journals are not considered sufficiently pres-
tigious or because the authors consider the costs in-
volved too high [5, 6]. Moreover, the ‘‘author pays’’
Supplemental electronic content is included with this paper on
model also poses a significant financial obstacle for
researchers or their institutions in low-income coun-
tries . Certain OAP journals discretionally waive
charges to such researchers.
Little is known about how this model, first intro-
duced in English-speaking countries, will be adopted
in a country as culturally different as Spain. This re-
search sought to evaluate the extent of familiarity with
OAP of biomedical authors who publish in Spanish
and their attitudes toward the author-pays model.
The investigators selected the first authors of Spanish-
language articles (with the exception of letters) ap-
pearing in PubMed between June and December 2003.
To locate authors, the researchers used the following
search syntax: (‘‘com’’[ad] OR ‘‘es’’[ad] OR ‘‘org’’[ad])
NOT letter[pt] AND Spanish[Lang] AND (‘‘2003/06/
01’’[EDAT]: ‘‘2003/12/31’’[EDAT]), where ‘‘es’’ repre-
sents a specific email domain for Spain. Most Spanish
authors’ email addresses would be collected using
‘‘.com,’’ ‘‘.es,’’ and ‘‘.org.’’ The investigators excluded
those authors who did not provide an email address
and sifted the original list of 716 entries found in
PubMed, eliminating duplications and authors not re-
siding in Spain. This process resulted in a final list of
354 authors. Authors were classified according to (1)
type of institution (university, university hospital, non-
university hospital, or government institution), (2) res-
idential Spanish region, and (3) medical speciality.
This research employed an author-elaborated nine-
item questionnaire (supplemental appendix online).
Item relevance and face validity were established by
consensus among the researchers. Between February
and May 2004, the questionnaire was emailed thrice
by individual emailings to avoid spam-blocking sys-
tems. Despite this precaution, 14% of emails were au-
tomatically rejected. All responses received before
June 15, 2004, were analyzed.
To determine whether responding authors were rep-
resentative of the global sample initially selected, the
team compared the following demographic and pub-
lication variables: province of residence, institution
type, biomedical speciality, existence of an online edi-
tion of the journal in which articles were published,
and publication of other articles during the same pe-
The investigators then studied the association be-
tween author responses and medical speciality, type of
institution, and region of residence. All comparisons
were performed using Pearson’s chi-square test. All
statistical calculations were performed using SPSS
J Med Libr Assoc 94(4) October 2006 455
The funding organization (National Library of Medi-
cine, USA.) had no role in the design and conduct of
the study; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation
of data; or in the preparation, review, and approval of
the manuscript. The Hedges Team includes Angela
Eady, Brian Haynes, Susan Marks, Ann McKibbon,
Doug Morgan, Cindy Walker-Dilks, Stephen Walter,
Stephen Werre, Nancy Wilczynski, and Sharon Wong,
all in the Health Information Research Unit, Depart-
ment of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Mc-
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Received September 2005; accepted June 2006