HHMI works to discover and share scientific knowledge. We believe that science is a public good. Should new research be shared freely, widely, and quickly? We asked our scientists what they think.

In fall 2019, the Center for Open Science conducted a survey of HHMI-employed scientists, their postdoctoral associates and graduate students, and a cohort of HHMI grantees who are early career scientists. The scientists surveyed represent more than 245 leading academic and nonprofit research labs in the United States.

Through the survey, we learned that many of our scientists see big challenges with current publishing practices, favor open publishing in principle, and consider open publishing the future. Researchers vary more in their own publishing behaviors and in their reaction to an employer or funder mandating “immediate open access” publishing. HHMI is using these survey results to help inform our approach to publishing policy.

Methodology »

This report summarizes the results of an anonymous online survey that the Center for Open Science conducted for HHMI in the fall of 2019. The survey asked scientists to answer 26 questions regarding their attitudes and behaviors on a range of topics related to open access and open science.

The survey included and reports results by five populations:  

  • HHMI Investigators (218 of 283; 77% response rate)
  • HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus Group Leaders (27 of 36; 75% response rate)
  • Graduate students and postdocs in HHMI Investigator labs (749 of 2470; 30% response rate)
  • Graduate students and postdocs in Janelia labs (28 out of 109; 26% response rate)
  • Hanna H. Gray Fellows (early career grantees of HHMI) (34 out of 45; 76% response rate)

In addition to reporting data for each of the five groups separately, we also aggregated data from HHMI Investigators and Janelia Group Leaders as ‘PIs’ and data from the three trainees groups as ‘Trainees.’

Glossary »

The survey provided the following terms and definitions to participants:

An open license refers to a copyright license that allows others to freely re-use the whole or parts of the article, including re-printing the article or individual figures, as long as the authors are credited. CC-BY is the most common open license.

Pre-prints are research articles that are shared prior to formal peer review and acceptance at a journal.

Pre-registration of study designs refers to a detailed plan of the research question and methodology made before beginning the experiment that is put in a registry or repository in a time-stamped, read-only fashion.

Pre-registration of analysis plans refers to a detailed plan of how the study data will be analyzed before seeing the results of an experiment that is put in a registry or repository in a time-stamped, read-only fashion.

A restrictive license refers to a copyright license that does not automatically allow others to freely re-use the whole or parts of the articles. Subscription journals typically use restrictive licenses to ensure that their content is accessed through their journal websites.

Study data refers to the data collected for a study that underlies the results reported in the manuscript.

Study materials refers to the information that would be needed to rerun a study. This could include detailed protocols, lab notebooks, reagent identifiers, or other objects related to data generation and/or collection.

Key Findings

Finding 1 – Most surveyed scientists see significant challenges with scientific publishing today and generally favor open access over subscription.

Finding 2 – The scientists are divided on whether they oppose or favor a policy requiring them to publish open access, which would restrict their publication choices.

Finding 3 – When considering a policy requiring them to publish open access, the scientists’ top concern was that trainees will find it more difficult to obtain tenure-track academic positions if they cannot publish in prestigious journals that are currently subscription-based.

Figure 3.

With an open access mandate, how concerned are you that…?

Finding 4 – The majority of Group Leaders at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus who took the survey report posting or reading preprints, with a lower proportion of HHMI Investigators and trainees doing so. Scientists are split on whether they oppose or favor a requirement to publish preprints.

Finding 5 – The scientists strongly support publication of peer reviews and author responses, if reviewers can remain anonymous. This support drops if the identity of the peer reviewer must be revealed.

Last updated: March 3, 2020

See full results

  • CSV file with responses to HHMI's full set of questions
  • Associated data dictionary

View full data set »