The status quo bias and the uptake of open access




open access, publishing, complexity, cognitive load, status quo bias


In this paper we argue that the framing of open access through language adopted by a variety of stakeholders serves to inhibit the uptake of open access publishing through the mechanisms of complexity and cognitive load. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, we analyze both the language and tiers of decisions that confront authors seeking information online about open access. We conclude that this information is for the most part prohibitively complex and introduces contradictory interpretations and executions of open access that act to motivate a phenomenon known as the status quo bias. The only reliable method of counteracting this status quo bias in order to bolster the uptake of open access is to re-frame the language that is commonly employed in association with open access and to minimize the tiers of decisions expected of authors, which create a barrier rather than a gateway to open access engagement.

Author Biographies

Melissa H. Cantrell, University of Colorado Boulder

Scholarly Communication Librarian, University Libraries, Assistant Professor

Lauren B. Collister, University of Pittsburgh

Director, Office of Scholarly Communication and Publishing, University Library System, University of Pittsburgh




How to Cite

Cantrell, M. H., & Collister, L. B. (2019). The status quo bias and the uptake of open access. First Monday, 24(7).