Re: Measuring cumulating research impact loss across fields and time

From: David Spurrett <>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2003 10:21:49 +0000

On Tue 25 Nov 2003, Stevan Harnad wrote:

> by way of a subtle strategic point... if we are to have
> open access to all refereed research, researchers have to be persuaded (or
> obliged) to provide it. They will not be persuaded to provide open access
> to their research output in order to solve their library's serials budget
> problems, nor in order to punish the venal publishers, nor for the sake of
> charity to the developing world -- nor even so that teachers, students and
> the general public should have access to their work! Those are all worthy
> reasons; moreover, they are among the likely side-effects of open access;
> but they are definitely not what will persuade researchers to *provide*
> the open access in the first place.
> The only thing that will persuade researchers to provide open access is
> a powerful and irrefutable empirical demonstration of the fact that doing
> so is in their own interests -- indeed, a demonstration of *how much*
> it is in their own interests, and how much they (and their institutions)
> are losing, daily, monthly, yearly, until they do provide open access
> to their refereed research output.
> That is the empirical demonstration -- of the direct causal connection
> between research access and research impact, and the substantial size of
> the benefits -- that we are working on producing now, to persuade not
> only the researchers to provide open access, but their employers and
> funders to extend their existing publish-or-perish policies to mandate
> that their researchers provide it.

Dear Professor Harnad & Sept98Forum,

I agree with your strategic point entirely - my point was not primarily
that researchers can reasonably be expected to expend any of their own
effort on making teaching in the developing world easier. Some might well
care about that, and want to do something, but people can't generally
be *expected* to act in non-self-interested ways. Also the candidates
for altruistic or empathic action (of which I realise there is a lot)
within and without the developing world are very numerous - and have to
jostle with one another for attention.

My point was, though, that these students are a group from which some
future publishers of academic research will come (indeed some already
have). When that happens, there are citations.

I look forward to the results of the empirical study you describe.

I would be curious to know, in the light of the above, whether
there was a further pattern that related (a) the extent to which
publications by authors at particular institutions cited research
materials available through open access, with (b) their local
institutional budget for expenditure on journals.

David Spurrett
Programme Director
Philosophy, University of Natal,
Durban, 4041, South Africa.
T: +27 (31) 260 2309 / 260 2292
F: +27 (31) 260 3031
Received on Wed Nov 26 2003 - 10:21:49 GMT

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