Chronicle of Higher Education: Misunderstanding about the Evans & Reimer OA Impact Study

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 15:03:18 -0500

      Re: Basken, Paul (2009) Fee-Based Journals Get Better
      Results, Study in Fee-Based Journal Reports.Chronicle of
      Higher Education February 23, 2009

(Re: Paul Basken) No, the Evans & Reimer (E & R) study
in Science does not show that 
      "researchers may find a wider audience if they make their
      findings available through a fee-based Web site rather
      than make their work freely available on the Internet." 

This is complete nonsense, since the "fee-based website" is
accessible to those who pay in any case. (It is simply the online
version of the journal; for access to it, an individual or
institution pays an access fee.) The free version is extra:
a supplement to that fee-based online version, not an alternative to
it: it is provided for those would-be users who cannot afford the
access-fee. In E & R's study, the free access is provided -- after an
access-embargo of up to a year or more -- by the journal itself. In
studies by others, the free access is provided by the author,
depositing the final refereed draft of the article on his own
website, free for all (usually immediately, with no prior embargo). E
& R did not examine the latter form of free online access at all.
(Paul Basken has confused (1) the size of the benefits of fee-based
online access over fee-based print-access alone with (2) the size of
the benefits of free online access over the benefits of fee-based
online-access alone. The fault is partly E & R's for describing their
findings in such an equivocal way.)

(Re: Phil Davis) No, E & R do not show that 

      "the effect of OA on citations may be much smaller than
      originally reported." 

They show that the effect of free access on citations after an
access-embargo (fee-based access only) of up to a year or longer is
much smaller than the effect of more immediate OA that has been
widely reported.

(Re: Phil Davis) No, E & R do not show that 

      "the vast majority of freely-accessible scientific
      articles are not published in OA journals, but are made
      freely available by non-profit scientific societies using
      a subscription model." 

E & R did not even look at the vast majority of freely-accessible
articles, which are the ones self-archived by their authors. E & R
looked only at journals that make their entire contents free after an
access-embargo of up to a year or more.

See: "Open Access Benefits for the Developed and Developing World:
The Harvards and the Have-Nots"

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Tue Feb 24 2009 - 20:06:37 GMT

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