Re: Mandated Self-Archiving and the "Open Choice" Option (fwd)

From: Martin Frank <MFrank_at_THE-APS.ORG>
Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2006 13:56:31 -0400

It is interesting that  Molecular Biology of the Cell has become
the poster child for the OA movement?  Below, Peter Suber uses MBC and
its decision to make access available for free after two months as
evidence for the benefits of OA.  I would agree that the advocacy for OA
by MBC and its sponsoring Society, ASCB, did increase the visibility of
the journal and likely contributed to the increase in submission.  It
might have also contributed to the increased impact factor since
visibility does increase the number of eyeballs viewing the content of
the journal, leading to an increase in citations.  However, I do not
think one can correlate an increase in subscriptions to the journal's OA
policy.  First of all, one must recognize that MBC is a relatively new
journal, having been founded in 1990.  As knowledge of the journal has
increased, additional institutions have decided to subscribe to the
journal.  However, the subscription data regularly distributed by ASCB to
Congress and others  to demonstrate that OA after 2 months does not
negatively impact subscriptions actually misrepresents the data.  The
11,000+ subscriptions that are represented in the graph, which grew
significantly over a period of time, actually includes both member and
institutional subscriptions.  The slope of the line more closely
parallels the membership growth of the Society, not the subscription
growth. Lila Gutterman, The Chronicle of Higher Education, asked Gary
Ward, ASCB, for a clarification of the data, but he did not provide it. 
Indeed, when I have asked ASCB for disaggregated data, showing member and
institutional subscriptions separately, they have been unwilling to
provide the information.  Until that data is provided, Peter really
should not be using MBC as the poster child for the movement.  Combining
membership growth, and therefore member subscriptions, with institutional
subscriptions, can be used to demonstrate that 2 months or 12 months will
have no impact on subscriptions.  In reality,  most of us differentiate
the two types of subscriptions to obtain a clear indication of the impact
of our free access policies.
Martin Frank, Ph.D.
Executive Director, American Physiological Society
9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814-3991
Tel; 301-634-7118   fax:301-634-7241
APS Home Page:
...integrating the life sciences from molecule to organism!

-----Original Message-----
From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
Sent: Thursday, June 29, 2006 9:21 AM
Subject: Re: Mandated Self-Archiving and the "Open Choice" Option (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 08:57:45 -0400
From: Peter Suber <>
Subject: Re: Mandated Self-Archiving and the "Open Choice" Option

> > Perhaps I should have prefaced the question with a recitation and
> > recognition of the fact that while the purpose is not to help
> > -- nonetheless, what I'm asking is, are there any such benefits to
> > be realized; have you formulated any indirect benefits that may be
> > anticipated?
>I believe I replied to that:
> (2) benefits to publishers in the form of increased
> visibility and impact for their journals, which can also draw more
> subscribers and more authors.
>There has been reported evidence of both of these. (Perhaps others will
>be able to cite the sources.)

Here's one bit of evidence.  When _Molecular Biology of the Cell_ adopted
the policy to provide OA to all its articles within two months of
publication (a comparatively short embargo), it saw both its submissions
and its subscriptions increase.   It's impact factor apparently rose as
well.  The editor's only explanation is the increased visibility of the
journal.  Here's the interview in which she discusses it.

The cause of this effect wasn't self-archiving, but it's clearly
to self-archiving at a rate of 100% after a two month delay.

      Peter Suber
Received on Mon Jul 03 2006 - 23:24:23 BST

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