Study on Citation of Open Access Papers v. Closed Access Papers

Posted on February 23, 2009  Comments (1)

Open Access to Scientific Papers May Not Guarantee Wide Dissemination

To test this theory, James A. Evans, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, and Jacob Reimer, a student of neurobiology also at the University of Chicago, analyzed millions of articles available online, including those from open source publications and those that required payment to access.

The results were surprising. On average, when a given publication was made available online after being in print for a year, being published in an open source format increased the use of that article by about 8 percent. When articles are made available online in a commercial format a year after publication, however, usage increases by about 12 percent.

“Across the scientific community,” Evans said in an interview, “it turns out that open access does have a positive impact on the attention that’s given to the journal articles, but it’s a small impact.”

Yet Evans and Reimer’s research also points to one very positive impact of the open source movement that is sometimes overlooked in the debate about scholarly publications. Researchers in the developing world, where research funding and libraries are not as robust as they are in wealthier countries, were far more likely to read and cite open source articles.

The University of Chicago team concludes that outside the developed world, the open source movement “widens the global circle of those who can participate in science and benefit from it.”

So while some scientists and scholars may chose to pay for scientific publications even when free publications are available, their colleagues in other parts of the world may find that going with open source works is the only choice they have.

I remain a strong advocate for open science. The out of date model of publishing research in closed journals does not make sense. Especially not for any government funded research or any research supported by foundations, universities or others that aim to promote science.

The quote above and the interview webcast also provide unclear data on what the actual impact is (on how often a paper is cited in other papers). Maybe the article would be clearer but I can’t tell because it is closed access. This link has some worthwhile comments: Generalizing the OA impact advantage.

Related: Toward a More Open Scientific CultureOpen Access Journal WarsDinosaurs Fighting Against Open Science

One Response to “Study on Citation of Open Access Papers v. Closed Access Papers”

  1. Craig Overend
    February 23rd, 2009 @ 11:39 pm

    I have to wonder how much of the difference is as a result of the audience and the habitual nature of some researchers. I’d expect those statistics to converge over time as more fields move to open access publications. May take a generation to do so – the old and hardened researchers dying off. *grins*

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