Guest blog

Blog – Open access publishing & dissemination

From Dr Anna Volkmer

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In my September blog I described the trials and tribulations of going for gold, in other words open access publication. Well, I promised to update you so here I go. I am delighted to report that the paper I wrote is now in the public domain. In a journal with a relatively high impact factor by speech and language therapy research standard (3.737). I confess the payment of the open access costs was, and is still smarting, but I am really pleased I stuck by my principles and got this done.

Now I do know that publication of the development of an intervention is perhaps a little less usual, but it is becoming much more important. Being transparent is vital. Putting all the work into the public domain to demonstrate the rigour with which an intervention has been developed is just as vital as demonstrating it works. It is only by describing the intervention in the most thorough way possible that we can ensure it can be replicated. And the Medical Research Council Guidance on developing complex interventions promotes this.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about this paper were the two rounds of reviews, and the three reviewers’ comments which focused so significantly on the patient and public involvement component (PPI). Amongst the questions asked were:

  1. what methods were used to undertake PPI,
  2. how was coproduction undertaken,
  3. were the ethics/power balance considered in the PPI work.

In the first instance I felt rather conflicted here. PPI work is by it’s very nature a collaboration, an opportunity to share and work on things jointly, with people with experience. Ideally these people should be able to be equally reflected in the author list to demonstrate this. Sadly, this wasn’t possible in this journal. But the collaborative work was undertaken with, rather than on/to these people so I hadn’t

If you missed the news in November, the NIHR now requires all the research it funds to be published open access and will support researchers to make that possible.

‘collated data’ from them. The process of discussion and coproduction was a mutual one. We jointly decided what to do and when. I didn’t have the space to describe in detail the tasks we undertook, but equally I didn’t wish to publish the process in typical research led format- allowing the PPI work became data. What I was able to do, and what my PPI group had always emphasised was to foreground that with support people with communication difficulties and dementia can participate in equal partnerships as PPI collaborators. So I took the opportunity to describe and highlight the important role they played in the coproduction of the intervention, and be specific about the communication supports and strategies we used to enable this participation.

In the meantime, I have co-edited a book with a speech and language therapy colleague and friend, Katherine Broomfield on involving people with seldom heard voices in the PPI process. By editing the book, we have been able to include those PPI collaborators as authors in the book. We have been able to foreground their voices and coproduce a practical resource for researchers to use in the future. We have also had the opportunity to share the stories of this research in a different way. We have also recently presented this work at a conference, our first invited keynote no less! We were able to amplify the voices of our PPI collaborators in that conference presentation, using video and images to share the work we have done together.

In summary, I always benefit from a reminder that it isn’t only about the peer reviewed journal publications. In fact the other things (including these blogs) are just as valuable and important!

AuthorDr Anna Volkmer Profile Picture

Dr Anna Volkmer is a Speech and Language Therapist and researcher in Language and Cognition, Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London. Anna is researching Speech and language therapy interventions in language led dementia and was once voted scariest speech and language therapist (even her children agree).



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