Open Access for Social Work Research and Practice

Open access publishing is increasing across many fields as a means of facilitating timely and equitable access to knowledge. To examine the extent of open access in social work serials publishing, we gathered information on the subscription costs and access policies of 81 peerreviewed social work journals. Although some trends toward increased access are noted, such as publishers’ acceptance of university archiving policies, the majority of journals provided no or minimal open access. Average annual subscription prices based on 2011 data were $126 for individuals and $579 for institutions for print and online access. Our review located 11 social work journals that are fully open access. In light of these findings, we review the importance of open access for facilitating social work research and evidence-based practice, and describe possible steps toward expanding access in the context of conflicts between the increasing corporatization of publishing and the growing recognition of knowledge as a common good. From this perspective, research findings should be broadly available regardless of socio-economic advantage or development status. Much of this research has been supported through public funding, and knowledge important to human social welfare should not be withheld as proprietary.