Re: Randomized controlled study of OA publishing

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2006 12:47:34 +0000

On Wed, 13 Dec 2006, Phil Davis wrote:

> We are in the process of conducting a randomized controlled study
> of Open Access publishing to ascertain if free-access to
> scholarly articles increases readership and citation impact.
> To date, the limited numbers of empirical studies have employed
> methodologies that do not control for potential biases and
> competing explanations. A citation advantage may be the result
> of increased access, but may equally be the result of higher
> quality articles being published as OA. By using a randomized
> controlled methodology, we will be in a stronger position to
> attribute a citation advantage [if discovered] to increased
> access.
> During the feasibility stage of our study, we will be partnering
> with the American Physiological Society and experimenting with
> eleven of their journals. Another of their journals allows
> author-supported OA publishing will be used as a control. We
> will be studying the performance of these articles, in terms of
> article downloads and citations, for the next four years.

OA advocates and sceptics alike welcome this study.

But for those who would like to hear results sooner than four years
from now (so as to be able to act on them sooner!) I will be reporting
some preliminary findings along the same lines in a few days (in the
context of a reply to Henk Moed), but based on comparing citation
counts of articles in 2004 that were self-archived in Institutional
Repositories with and without self-archiving mandates. The comparison
will be: self-archived/self-selected (Ss), self-archived/mandated (Sm),
non-archived/self-selected (Ns), non-archived/mandated (Nm -- i.e.,
noncompliant with mandate), comparing, always, within the same journal.

The sample is small (only 5 mandatory IRs so far), and the mandates
are still young (so the compliance is still spotty), but the trends are
interesting. The impatient can already see the data summary at:

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Dec 15 2006 - 13:06:12 GMT

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