OA citation impact study: No conclusions possible

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 1 May 2007 03:01:51 +0100

    Tonta, Yasar, and Ünal, Yurdagül and Al, Umut (2007) The Research
    Impact of Open Access Journal Articles. In Proceedings ELPUB 2007,
    the 11th International Conference on Electronic Publishing, Focusing
    on challenges for the digital spectrum, pp. 1-11, Vienna (Austria).

The above article compared average citation counts in several different
fields for a sample of articles in a sample of OA journals in the
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

The average citation counts for articles in the OA journals were found
to vary across fields. It was concluded that OA research impact varies
across fields.

No comparison was made with non-OA journals in the same fields. Hence it
is impossible to say whether any of these differences have anything to
do with OA. Fields no doubt differ in their average number of citations.
Journals no doubt differ too, in subject matter, quality, and citation
impct. And it is not clear whether the OA journals in each field are the
top, medium or bottom journals, relative to the non-OA journals.

No conclusions at all can be drawn from this study. The authors are
encouraged to do the necessary controls.

Note also that Hajjem et al. 2005 (and others) report that the the
OA/non-OA ratio is positively correlated with citation counts. This can
mean that higher-quality articles are more likely to be made OA, or that
the OA impact advantage is greater for higher-quality articles -- or,
most likely, both (Hajjem & Harnad 2006).

Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-Year
Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it
Increases Research Citation Impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin 28(4)
pp. 39-47.

Hajjem, C. and Harnad, S. (2006) The Open Access Impact Advantage:
Quality Advantage or Quality Bias? Technical Report, ECS, University of

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue May 01 2007 - 03:31:47 BST

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