Re: OA in High Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation Advantage

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2009 13:04:26 -0400

On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 12:22 PM, Sally
Morris<> wrote:
> Stevan is, I'm sure, well aware that IOP at least has claimed that point (2)
> is erroneous and that it was misquoted by Swan

No, I am not aware of that at all.

All I am aware of is that IOP said that they had data showing that
downloads of their online contents declined with the growth of Green
OA self-archiving.

That point is not in the least disputed, and is not the question at issue.

(Indeed, the recent preprint by Gentil-Beccot et al (2009) in HEP, Figure 6, showed quite
clearly that where there is a Green OA version accessible in Arxiv,
HEP users prefer to use that, rather than going to the journal site;
Kurtz et al had some slightly different behavior patterns in
astrophysics, where usage shifts to the journal version -- probably
because of ADS -- once it becomes available.)

But the "journal destruction" issue is not about preferred download
sites, but about subscriptions. And that was what Alma Swan asked APS
and IOP specifically about: "Has Green OA caused a decline in

And the answer to that question -- from both APS and IOP -- was and is: No.

If what you are instead referring to is the hypothesis that a decline
in downloads will lead to a decline in subscriptions, then this is
very much the same as the original hypothesis that Green OA will lead
to a decline in subscriptions:

The objective evidence in both cases is and remains that it has not
done so, in 18 years of HEP self-archiving, the last 10 of them at
near 100%.

Stevan Harnad


> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
> Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
> Sent: 20 July 2009 16:35
> Subject: Re: OA in High Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation
> Advantage
> On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 7:51 AM, Sally
> Morris<> wrote:
>> It could be that the HE physicists (a) value journals too much to let them
>> be destroyed by green OA and (b) are convinced that, if they don't put an
>> alternative funding model in place, that is what will eventually happen
> That is a logical possibility but:
> (1) HE physicists have been doing Green OA self-archiving for 18 years
> -- the last 10 of them at virtually 100% (see Figure 1 of
> Gentil-Beccot et al 2009 ).
> (2) The two most important physics publishers -- APS and IOP -- have
> reported that there has been no detectable decline associated with
> those many years of Green OA self-archiving.
> (3) It hence seems hard to imagine that HE physicists have suddenly
> begun worrying that it will destroy their journals.
> (4) Besides, the proponents of SCOAP3 have stated quite clearly why
> they are doing it: It is not to save journals (which, while
> subscriptions remain sustainable are clearly in no need of saving): It
> is to control and lower journal prices (i.e., the old SPARC consortial
> bargaining approach).
> (5) SCOAP3 is a consortium of subscribing institutions trying to
> negotiate prices under the notion of a "Pre-Emptive Gold OA 'Flip'
> Model":
> (6) But the "model" -- pre-emptive consortial price negotiations with
> multiple vendors for agreeing the price of an annual renewable joint
> prepayment -- is incoherent and unscaleable, for reasons that have by
> now been many times rehearsed in these pages (but have yet to be
> reflected upon by those who are afflicted with this form of Gold
> Fever).
> Stevan Harnad
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
>> Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
>> Sent: 18 July 2009 03:52
>> Subject: Re: OA in High Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation
>> Advantage
>> On Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 3:07 PM, Dana Roth <>
>> wrote:
>>> Given the results of this article and the very narrow scientific interest
>> in high
>>> energy physics articles, what is the point of SCOAP3 . other than to
>> absolve
>>> authors of any responsibility for the costs of maintaining the
> peer-review
>>> system, and to maintain the enormous disparity in subscription costs
>> between
>>> commercial and non-profit high energy physics journals?
>> Although I am not sure it is based on quite the same reasoning, Dana
>> Roth's conclusion is basically right. SCOAP3 is a non-sequitur:
>> HEP physicists virtually all self-archive, spontaneously, since 1991.
>> This Green OA has greatly enhanced both the speed and the impact of
>> their research. The obvious take-home message from this is that other
>> fields should do likewise (and since most evidently aren't doing it
>> spontaneously, their institutions and funders should mandate Green
>> OA).
>> But instead of working to spread Green OA to other fields of physics
>> and beyond, what is the HEP community doing? It is promoting a
>> pre-emptive Gold OA consortium, SCOAP3, that is neither needed by HEP
>> nor serves the interests of other fields. Moreover, SCOAP3 is almost
>> certainly neither scaleable nor unsustainable (being based on an
>> internally incoherent notion of annual collective prepayment to
>> multiple vendors). SCOAP3 is a somnambulistic non-sequitur, not to be
>> emulated.
>> What is to be emulated is HEP's highly productive practice of
>> self-archiving, which is what has brought all the genuine benefits.
>> And since it is evident after 18 years that this emulation is not
>> going to happen spontaneously, it should be universally mandated by
>> institutions and funders, in the interests of research and researchers
>> in all fields, worldwide, so all may reap the genuine benefits of
>> Green OA, at long last, as HEP has been doing since 1991 (and computer
>> scientists since even earlier):
>> (In my own commentary on the Gentil-Beccot et al. (2009) article I
>> ignored SCOAP3 in order to keep the focus on the substantive part,
>> which is the demonstrated benefits of Green OA, rather than veering
>> off into voodoo economics. I note that with but a fleeting mention of
>> SCOAP3 at the very end of their article, Gentil-Beccot et al. avoided
>> this non-sequitur too.)
>> Stevan Harnad
>>> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
>> Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
>>> Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2009 8:09 PM
>>> Subject: OA in High Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation
>> Advantage
>>> Version with hyperlinks:
>>> Gentil-Beccot, Anne; Salvatore Mele, Travis Brooks (2009) Citing and
>> Reading Behaviours in High-Energy Physics: How a Community Stopped
> Worrying
>> about Journals and Learned to Love Repositories
>>> This is an important study, and most of its conclusions are valid:
>>> (1) Making research papers open access (OA) dramatically increases their
>> impact.
>>> (2) The earlier that papers are made OA, the greater their impact.
>>> (3) High Energy Physics (HEP) researchers were among the first to make
>> their papers OA (since 1991, and they did it without needing to be
> mandated
>> to do it!)
>>> (4) Gold OA provides no further impact advantage over and above Green OA.
>>> However, the following caveats need to be borne in mind, in interpreting
>> this paper:
>>> (a) HEP researchers have indeed been providing OA since 1991, unmandated
>> (and computer scientists have been doing so since even earlier). But in
> the
>> ensuing years, the only other discipline that has followed suit,
> unmandated,
>> has been economics, despite the repeated demonstration of the Green OA
>> impact advantage across all disciplines. So whereas still further evidence
>> (as in this paper by Gentil-Beccot et al) confirming that OA increases
>> impact is always very welcome, that evidence will not be sufficient to
>> induce enough researchers to provide OA; only mandates from their
>> institutions and funders can ensure that they do so.
>>> (b) From the fact that when there is a Green OA version available, users
>> prefer to consult that Green OA version rather than the journal version,
> it
>> definitely does not follow that journals are no longer necessary. Journals
>> are (and always were) essentially peer-review service-providers and
>> cerifiers, and they still are. That essential function is indispensable.
>> researchers continue to submit their papers to peer-reviewed journals, as
>> they always did; and they deposit both their unrefereed preprints and then
>> their refereed postprints in arxiv (along with the journal reference).
> None
>> of that has changed one bit.
>>> (c) Although it has not been systematically demonstrated, it is likely
>> that in fields like HEP and astrophysics, the journal
>> affordability/accessibility problem is not as great as in many other
> fields.
>> OA's most important function is to provide immediate access to those who
>> cannot afford access to the journal version. Hence the Early Access impact
>> advantage in HEP -- arising from making preprints OA well before the
>> published version is available -- translates, in the case of most other
>> fields, into the OA impact advantage itself, because without OA many
>> potential users simply do not have access even after publication, hence
>> cannot make any contribution to the article's impact.
>>> (d) Almost no one has ever argued (let alone adduced evidence) that Gold
>> OA provides a greater OA advantage than Green OA. The OA advantage is the
> OA
>> advantage, whether Green or Gold. (It just happens to be easier and more
>> rigorous to test and demonstrate the OA advantage through within-journal
>> comparisons [i.e Green vs. non-Green articles] than between-journal
>> comparisons [Gold vs. non-Gold journals].)
>>> Stevan Harnad
>>> EXCERPTS: from Gentil-Beccot et al:
>>> ABSTRACT: Contemporary scholarly discourse follows many alternative
> routes
>> in addition to the three-century old tradition of publication in
>> peer-reviewed journals. The field of High- Energy Physics (HEP) has
> explored
>> alternative communication strategies for decades, initially via the mass
>> mailing of paper copies of preliminary manuscripts, then via the inception
>> of the first online repositories and digital libraries.
>>> This field is uniquely placed to answer recurrent questions raised by the
>> current trends in scholarly communication: is there an advantage for
>> scientists to make their work available through repositories, often in
>> preliminary form? Is there an advantage to publishing in Open Access
>> journals? Do scientists still read journals or do they use digital
>> repositories?
>>> The analysis of citation data demonstrates that free and immediate online
>> dissemination of preprints creates an immense citation advantage in HEP,
>> whereas publication in Open Access journals presents no discernible
>> advantage. In addition, the analysis of clickstreams in the leading
> digital
>> library of the field shows that HEP scientists seldom read journals,
>> preferring preprints instead....
>>> ...
>>> ...arXiv was first based on e-mail and then on the web, becoming the
> first
>> repository and the first "green" Open Access5 platform... With the term
>> "green" Open Access we denote the free online availability of scholarly
>> publications in a repository. In the case of HEP, the submission to these
>> repositories, typically arXiv, is not mandated by universities or funding
>> agencies, but is a free choice of authors seeking peer recognition and
>> visibility... The results of an analysis of SPIRES data on the citation
>> behaviour of HEP scientists is presented... demonstrat[e] the "green" Open
>> Access advantage in HEP... With the term "gold" Open Access we denote the
>> free online availability of a scholarly publication on the web site of a
>> scientific journals.... There is no discernable citation advantage added
> by
>> publishing articles in "gold" Open Access journals...
>>> ...
>>> 7. Conclusions
>>> Scholarly communication is at a cross road of new technologies and
>> publishing models. The analysis of almost two decades of use of preprints
>> and repositories in the HEP community provides unique evidence to inform
> the
>> Open Access debate, through four main findings:
>>> 1. Submission of articles to an Open Access subject repository, arXiv,
>> yields a citation advantage of a factor five.
>>> 2. The citation advantage of articles appearing in a repository is
>> connected to their dissemination prior to publication, 20% of citations of
>> HEP articles over a two-year period occur before publication.
>>> 3. There is no discernable citation advantage added by publishing
> articles
>> in "gold" Open Access journals.
>>> 4. HEP scientists are between four and eight times more likely to
> download
>> an article in its preprint form from arXiv rather than its final published
>> version on a journal web site.
>>> Taken together these findings lead to three general conclusions about
>> scholarly communication in HEP, as a discipline that has long embraced
> green
>> Open Access:
>>> 1. There is an immense advantage for individual authors, and for the
>> discipline as a whole, in free and immediate circulation of ideas,
> resulting
>> in a faster scientific discourse.
>>> 2. The advantages of Open Access in HEP come without mandates and without
>> debates. Universal adoption of Open Access follows from the immediate
>> benefits for authors.
>>> 3. Peer-reviewed journals have lost their role as a means of scientific
>> discourse, which has effectively moved to the discipline repository.
>>> HEP has charted the way for a possible future in scholarly communication
>> to the full benefit of scientists, away from over three centuries of
>> tradition centred on scientific journals. However, HEP peer-reviewed
>> journals play an indispensable role, providing independent accreditation,
>> which is necessary in this field as in the entire, global, academic
>> community. The next challenge for scholarly communication in HEP, and for
>> other disciplines embracing Open Access, will be to address this novel
>> conundrum. Efforts in this direction have already started, with
> initiatives
>> such as SCOAP3...
Received on Mon Jul 20 2009 - 18:10:16 BST

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