Re: How to compare research impact of toll- vs. open-access research

From: J.W.T.Smith <J.W.T.Smith_at_KENT.AC.UK>
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2004 15:36:35 +0100


At last some facts instead of hype. I'm a believer in Open Access but my
own research has shown that hype and reality were seriously out of step.

This study can be summarised thus: There is no difference between standard
and OA sci/tech journals in terms of citation pattern, the only important
factor is the quality of the article, not how it is published. With a
little thought it is easy to see why this is the case. Those people who
cite articles (as distinct from those who merely read them), i.e.,
academic researchers, already have access to the standard journals in
their subject so open access makes little difference to them. So for hard
sci/tech (and probably socsci and hums) subjects we can forget the
arguments about more citations (that doesn't preclude the possibility of
greater readership though).

Since we now know there is no difference between OA and standard journals
in terms of citation and quality (if an article has quality it will be
equally cited in whichever form it is published) then the only variables
left are cost and acceptability. Again since the citation patterns are
similar the first test of acceptability seems to have been passed since OA
journals are being read and quality articles are being published in them.

So we are just left with cost - this has many variables, e.g., do we count
the cost of the technology needed to access OA journals, do we take into
account the money saved from not needing to archive hardcopy, will we
accept the movement of money from subscriptions to up front refereeing
fees, do we count the savings in subscription maintenance, etc? However
complicated the calculation if my interpretation is correct we can forget
arguing about which is the better form of publication and just ask which
is the cheapest :-) .


John Smith,
The Templeman Library,
University of Kent.
Received on Fri Apr 16 2004 - 15:36:35 BST

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