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

From: Professor Arthur Sale <Arthur.Sale_at_UTAS.EDU.AU>
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2005 16:00:08 +1100

Link between open-access and citations (and vice versa)
Can I add to this discussion that while it is demonstrable that
open-access generates higher citation counts (see Stevan's citations), it
is also observable that a citation leads to greater open-access
downloads. This is a positive feedback loop. I can point to several
cases in my own repository where a surge in downloads of a particular
document has been tracked down to a citation elsewhere.

Now why is this important? Because following a citation from document A
to download its source (document B) implies a higher level of research
commitment than downloading document A in the first place. The reader
must have actually read A and inwardly digested sufficient of it to want
to download B in turn. It is also probable, though not provable, that B
will be read as well. This is research impact of the purest form. The
reader has read the document and acted on it, conducting further
research.

Estimators of research impact
Because in its purest form research impact is "acting on the research and
producing new research/goods/services", GDP, patents, spin-off companies,
citations, number of articles, etc are all estimators (I prefer this word
to measures) of research impact of varying worth. It is worth noting that
80% of the variance in the expensive UK Research Assessment Exercise is
accounted for by citations alone, instead of the much more complex system
employed.

I am a researcher. I have no doubts that open access increases my
research impact and I have many anecdotal pieces of evidence to that
effect, both from myself and the academics in my School. These include
direct communication via email, traffic data, consulting, etc. While
these are not capable of being quantified into estimators, they are
actual examples on individual papers.

Arthur Sale
Professor of Computing (Research)

Professor Arthur Sale ^ Research Coordinator
School of Computing, Private Bag 100, University of Tasmania, Hobart 7001
Fixed 03 6226 1792, Mobile 04 1947 1331, Fax 03 6226 1824, Web
www.comp.utas.edu.au
Received on Tue Oct 04 2005 - 13:30:51 BST

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