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A psychological perspective on the reluctance of researchers to adopt open access publishing

Researchers still seem to be reluctant to adopt open access publishing despite acknowledging the benefits. This paper will approach this reluctance from a psychological perspective, thereby highlighting important barriers and intervention strategies.

Published onApr 27, 2023
A psychological perspective on the reluctance of researchers to adopt open access publishing


Despite growing awareness of the benefits of large-scale open access publishing, individual researchers seem reluctant to adopt this behavior, thereby slowing down the evolution toward a new scientific culture. This paper outlines and applies a goal-directed framework of behavior causation to shed light on this type of behavioral reluctance and to organize and suggest possible intervention strategies. The framework explains behavior as the result of a cycle of events starting with the detection of a discrepancy between a goal and a status quo and the selection of behavior to reduce this discrepancy. The paper lists various factors that may hinder this cycle and thus contribute to behavioral reluctance. After that, it highlights potential remedies to address each of the identified barriers. It thereby hopes to point out new ways to think about the behavioral reluctances of researchers in open access publishing.


Author biographies

Massimo Köster (KU Leuven) completed a master in Applied Social Psychology at the University of Groningen before starting his PhD at KU Leuven. His current theoretical and empirical work is focused on goal-directed processes. The specific research questions address both the fundamental mechanisms of goal-directed processes and the practical implications that goal-directed processes have for our understanding of behavior and behavior change. As such, goal-directed processes are analyzed and applied to explain various suboptimal behaviors, such as action slips, unhealthy eating, environmentally harmful behavior, and closed access publishing. 

Jan De Houwer (Ghent University) received his PhD from KU Leuven in 1997 and was a Lecturer at the University of Southampton (UK) from 1998 to 2001. Since 2001, he works at Ghent University where he heads the Learning and Implicit Processes Laboratory ( His research is related to the manner in which spontaneous (automatic) preferences are learned and can be measured. Regarding the learning of preferences, he focuses on the role of stimulus pairings (i.e., conditioning). With regard to the measurement of preferences, he examines the nature and utility of various reaction time measures. Other interests include fear conditioning, learning via instructions and observation, the relation between learning, persuasion, and impression formation, meta-theory, and composing silly songs. In his research, he combines the strengths of behavior analytic approaches with those of the cognitive approach to psychology.

Agnes Moors (KU Leuven) is associate professor at KU Leuven and associate member of the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences. She combines theoretical work informed by philosophy with empirical research. Her theoretical work focuses on the comparison of emotion theories, the conceptual analysis of automaticity, the critical analysis of dual-process models, and the development of a goal-directed model for behavior causation. Her empirical work examines the role of goal-directed processes in emotional and (seemingly) maladaptive behavior using state of the art experimental behavioral and neuroscientific methods.

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