Re: Surveys, self-archiving, and what authors want to do

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2005 02:45:07 +0000 (GMT)

On Tue, 22 Feb 2005 wrote:

> Alma Swan may claim that the survey is rigorous and meaningful, but its
> objectivity is rather undermined by the following introductory sentence:
> "Studies show that open access increases the impact of - and number of
> citations to - work made accessible in this way."
> Even if we set aside the contentiousness of the statement, it surely has
> no place in an introduction to an objective survey of authors' attitudes
> since it is leading the witness.
> If you are asking for someone's opinion about something, surely you don't
> start off by making any claims as to the positive (or negative) aspects of
> the issue that you are surveying?
> Cliff Morgan, Chair, Serial Publishers Executive
> Academic and Professional Division of the Publishers Association

Very interesting observation. To see the how Cliff Morgan's vested
interests and wishful thinking might just be influencing his own
objectivity on the subject of surveys, consider the following (with
apologies for putting such a lurid turn on it, but sometimes it's
necessary in order to shake people into thinking seriously):

If one were doing a survey on the actual *practises* of smokers, as
well as their *attitudes* towards those facts (not their opinions as to
what those facts might be!), would one be undermining the objectivity
of one's survey by introducing it as arising from the *fact* that smoking
causes lung cancer?

As to the "contentiousness" of the statement that open access increases
impact, I suggest that Cliff have a good look at the growing number
of empirical studies of this phenomenon, all of which agree on the
outcome. That is better than to bury one's head in the sand, and hope
the facts will go away, or that researchers can and should be kept in
pristine ignorance of them as long as possible (as I don't doubt the
tobacco companies would have quite liked to do, in the name of objectivity,
as well as not undermining opinions with facts):

    Bibliography of OA Advantage Data

Stevan Harnad

> ___
> Alma Swan wrote:
> <snip>
> 2. Professor Watkinson's phraseology implies that KPL has carried out
> numerous surveys of dubious merit. In fact, KPL has only published the
> results of ONE survey on open access so far, which was indeed based on a
> small sample, but a valid one, and I would hope its merit is considerable.
> However, for information, I am now analysing the results of a new,
> current, survey on self-archiving that we have conducted, and which has a
> sample of more than 1200. The report will be published in the spring.
> 3. Our new, bigger-sample survey shows that the percentage of academics
> who would willingly self-archive if required to do so by their employers
> or funders is greater than previously found.
> <snip>
Received on Thu Feb 24 2005 - 02:45:07 GMT

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