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

From: Rick Anderson <>
Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2004 03:33:09 +0000

Stevan Harnad wrote:

> But peer-reviewed journals are a completely different story: The authors
> *are* the advertisers. They don't want to be paid for their articles;
> they want to maximise users; and they don't want any potential users lost
> because they cannot afford to pay for access. Moreover, it is mostly not
> the users who pay, but their institutions (if they can afford it). And
> the authors (like advertisers) are paid off in research impact -- which
> translates into research funding and salary increases.

I'm not so sure that authors just want to "maximize users." It seems to
me that "number of readers" and "research impact" are not the same
thing, nor does the former always lead to the latter. Given the choice
between a journal that has many subscribers but relatively low prestige
and a journal that has fewer readers but higher prestige, a rationally
self-interested author may well choose the latter.

This is not an abstract or merely theoretical consideration. One hurdle
for OA right now is the fact that most OA venues, whatever their
readership, don't confer as much prestige on their authors as available
non-OA venues do. This is going to make it relatively hard for OA
venues to compete for authors. (The problem is, of course, compounded
where authors are required to secure additional funding to subsidize OA
dissemination, and have free options in the non-OA realm.)

One possible solution to this problem would be to strip authors of the
right to choose how they distribute their articles. As we all know,
there are ongoing efforts in that direction -- but they're meeting with
mixed success so far.

Rick Anderson
Dir. of Resource Acquisition
Univ. of Nevada, Reno Libraries
(775) 784-6500 x273
Received on Sat Dec 11 2004 - 03:33:09 GMT

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