Re: OA in High Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation Advantage

From: Sally Morris (Morris Associates) <"Sally>
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 10:44:03 +0100

Since my informants are no longer at IOP, I can't give you chapter and
verse, but assure you I'm not making it up (and it was about subscriptions).
I recall a speaker at an ALPSP seminar telling us much the same story for
London Mathematical Society journals.

Back to the Gentil-Beccot et al article, however - they only looked at
clickstream data on SPIRES, didn't they? When Kurtz et al
( - see Fig 5) looked at ArXiv
stats directly, together with ADS statistics for access to astrophysics
journals (which must be an underestimate, since not all readers come in via
ADS), they found that while HE physicists use ArXiv about twice as
frequently for older papers as do astrophysicists or condensed matter
scientists (who go directly to the journals). Unless HE physicists have a
very different pattern of use from astrophysicists, however, it would seem
that they still preferentially use the journals for older articles.


Sally Morris
Partner, Morris Associates - Publishing Consultancy
South House, The Street
Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3UU, UK
Tel: +44(0)1903 871286
Fax: +44(0)8701 202806

-----Original Message-----
From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
Sent: 20 July 2009 18:04
Subject: Re: OA in High Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation

On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 12:22 PM, Sally
Morris<> wrote:
> Stevan is, I'm sure, well aware that IOP at least has claimed that point
> is erroneous and that it was misquoted by Swan

No, I am not aware of that at all.

All I am aware of is that IOP said that they had data showing that
downloads of their online contents declined with the growth of Green
OA self-archiving.

That point is not in the least disputed, and is not the question at issue.

(Indeed, the recent preprint by Gentil-Beccot et al (2009) in HEP, Figure 6, showed quite
clearly that where there is a Green OA version accessible in Arxiv,
HEP users prefer to use that, rather than going to the journal site;
Kurtz et al had some slightly different behavior patterns in
astrophysics, where usage shifts to the journal version -- probably
because of ADS -- once it becomes available.)

But the "journal destruction" issue is not about preferred download
sites, but about subscriptions. And that was what Alma Swan asked APS
and IOP specifically about: "Has Green OA caused a decline in

And the answer to that question -- from both APS and IOP -- was and is: No.

If what you are instead referring to is the hypothesis that a decline
in downloads will lead to a decline in subscriptions, then this is
very much the same as the original hypothesis that Green OA will lead
to a decline in subscriptions:

The objective evidence in both cases is and remains that it has not
done so, in 18 years of HEP self-archiving, the last 10 of them at
near 100%.

Stevan Harnad


> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
> Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
> Sent: 20 July 2009 16:35
> Subject: Re: OA in High Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation
> Advantage
> On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 7:51 AM, Sally
> Morris<> wrote:
>> It could be that the HE physicists (a) value journals too much to let
>> be destroyed by green OA and (b) are convinced that, if they don't put an
>> alternative funding model in place, that is what will eventually happen
> That is a logical possibility but:
> (1) HE physicists have been doing Green OA self-archiving for 18 years
> -- the last 10 of them at virtually 100% (see Figure 1 of
> Gentil-Beccot et al 2009 ).
> (2) The two most important physics publishers -- APS and IOP -- have
> reported that there has been no detectable decline associated with
> those many years of Green OA self-archiving.
> (3) It hence seems hard to imagine that HE physicists have suddenly
> begun worrying that it will destroy their journals.
> (4) Besides, the proponents of SCOAP3 have stated quite clearly why
> they are doing it: It is not to save journals (which, while
> subscriptions remain sustainable are clearly in no need of saving): It
> is to control and lower journal prices (i.e., the old SPARC consortial
> bargaining approach).
> (5) SCOAP3 is a consortium of subscribing institutions trying to
> negotiate prices under the notion of a "Pre-Emptive Gold OA 'Flip'
> Model":
> (6) But the "model" -- pre-emptive consortial price negotiations with
> multiple vendors for agreeing the price of an annual renewable joint
> prepayment -- is incoherent and unscaleable, for reasons that have by
> now been many times rehearsed in these pages (but have yet to be
> reflected upon by those who are afflicted with this form of Gold
> Fever).
> Stevan Harnad
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
>> Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
>> Sent: 18 July 2009 03:52
>> Subject: Re: OA in High Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation
>> Advantage
>> On Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 3:07 PM, Dana Roth <>
>> wrote:
>>> Given the results of this article and the very narrow scientific
>> in high
>>> energy physics articles, what is the point of SCOAP3 . other than to
>> absolve
>>> authors of any responsibility for the costs of maintaining the
> peer-review
>>> system, and to maintain the enormous disparity in subscription costs
>> between
>>> commercial and non-profit high energy physics journals?
>> Although I am not sure it is based on quite the same reasoning, Dana
>> Roth's conclusion is basically right. SCOAP3 is a non-sequitur:
>> HEP physicists virtually all self-archive, spontaneously, since 1991.
>> This Green OA has greatly enhanced both the speed and the impact of
>> their research. The obvious take-home message from this is that other
>> fields should do likewise (and since most evidently aren't doing it
>> spontaneously, their institutions and funders should mandate Green
>> OA).
>> But instead of working to spread Green OA to other fields of physics
>> and beyond, what is the HEP community doing? It is promoting a
>> pre-emptive Gold OA consortium, SCOAP3, that is neither needed by HEP
>> nor serves the interests of other fields. Moreover, SCOAP3 is almost
>> certainly neither scaleable nor unsustainable (being based on an
>> internally incoherent notion of annual collective prepayment to
>> multiple vendors). SCOAP3 is a somnambulistic non-sequitur, not to be
>> emulated.
>> What is to be emulated is HEP's highly productive practice of
>> self-archiving, which is what has brought all the genuine benefits.
>> And since it is evident after 18 years that this emulation is not
>> going to happen spontaneously, it should be universally mandated by
>> institutions and funders, in the interests of research and researchers
>> in all fields, worldwide, so all may reap the genuine benefits of
>> Green OA, at long last, as HEP has been doing since 1991 (and computer
>> scientists since even earlier):
>> (In my own commentary on the Gentil-Beccot et al. (2009) article I
>> ignored SCOAP3 in order to keep the focus on the substantive part,
>> which is the demonstrated benefits of Green OA, rather than veering
>> off into voodoo economics. I note that with but a fleeting mention of
>> SCOAP3 at the very end of their article, Gentil-Beccot et al. avoided
>> this non-sequitur too.)
>> Stevan Harnad
>>> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
>> Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
>>> Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2009 8:09 PM
>>> Subject: OA in High Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation
>> Advantage
>>> Version with hyperlinks:
>>> Gentil-Beccot, Anne; Salvatore Mele, Travis Brooks (2009) Citing and
>> Reading Behaviours in High-Energy Physics: How a Community Stopped
> Worrying
>> about Journals and Learned to Love Repositories
>>> This is an important study, and most of its conclusions are valid:
>>> (1) Making research papers open access (OA) dramatically increases their
>> impact.
>>> (2) The earlier that papers are made OA, the greater their impact.
>>> (3) High Energy Physics (HEP) researchers were among the first to make
>> their papers OA (since 1991, and they did it without needing to be
> mandated
>> to do it!)
>>> (4) Gold OA provides no further impact advantage over and above Green
>>> However, the following caveats need to be borne in mind, in interpreting
>> this paper:
>>> (a) HEP researchers have indeed been providing OA since 1991, unmandated
>> (and computer scientists have been doing so since even earlier). But in
> the
>> ensuing years, the only other discipline that has followed suit,
> unmandated,
>> has been economics, despite the repeated demonstration of the Green OA
>> impact advantage across all disciplines. So whereas still further
>> (as in this paper by Gentil-Beccot et al) confirming that OA increases
>> impact is always very welcome, that evidence will not be sufficient to
>> induce enough researchers to provide OA; only mandates from their
>> institutions and funders can ensure that they do so.
>>> (b) From the fact that when there is a Green OA version available, users
>> prefer to consult that Green OA version rather than the journal version,
> it
>> definitely does not follow that journals are no longer necessary.
>> are (and always were) essentially peer-review service-providers and
>> cerifiers, and they still are. That essential function is indispensable.
>> researchers continue to submit their papers to peer-reviewed journals, as
>> they always did; and they deposit both their unrefereed preprints and
>> their refereed postprints in arxiv (along with the journal reference).
> None
>> of that has changed one bit.
>>> (c) Although it has not been systematically demonstrated, it is likely
>> that in fields like HEP and astrophysics, the journal
>> affordability/accessibility problem is not as great as in many other
> fields.
>> OA's most important function is to provide immediate access to those who
>> cannot afford access to the journal version. Hence the Early Access
>> advantage in HEP -- arising from making preprints OA well before the
>> published version is available -- translates, in the case of most other
>> fields, into the OA impact advantage itself, because without OA many
>> potential users simply do not have access even after publication, hence
>> cannot make any contribution to the article's impact.
>>> (d) Almost no one has ever argued (let alone adduced evidence) that Gold
>> OA provides a greater OA advantage than Green OA. The OA advantage is the
> OA
>> advantage, whether Green or Gold. (It just happens to be easier and more
>> rigorous to test and demonstrate the OA advantage through within-journal
>> comparisons [i.e Green vs. non-Green articles] than between-journal
>> comparisons [Gold vs. non-Gold journals].)
>>> Stevan Harnad
>>> EXCERPTS: from Gentil-Beccot et al:
>>> ABSTRACT: Contemporary scholarly discourse follows many alternative
> routes
>> in addition to the three-century old tradition of publication in
>> peer-reviewed journals. The field of High- Energy Physics (HEP) has
> explored
>> alternative communication strategies for decades, initially via the mass
>> mailing of paper copies of preliminary manuscripts, then via the
>> of the first online repositories and digital libraries.
>>> This field is uniquely placed to answer recurrent questions raised by
>> current trends in scholarly communication: is there an advantage for
>> scientists to make their work available through repositories, often in
>> preliminary form? Is there an advantage to publishing in Open Access
>> journals? Do scientists still read journals or do they use digital
>> repositories?
>>> The analysis of citation data demonstrates that free and immediate
>> dissemination of preprints creates an immense citation advantage in HEP,
>> whereas publication in Open Access journals presents no discernible
>> advantage. In addition, the analysis of clickstreams in the leading
> digital
>> library of the field shows that HEP scientists seldom read journals,
>> preferring preprints instead....
>>> ...
>>> ...arXiv was first based on e-mail and then on the web, becoming the
> first
>> repository and the first "green" Open Access5 platform... With the term
>> "green" Open Access we denote the free online availability of scholarly
>> publications in a repository. In the case of HEP, the submission to these
>> repositories, typically arXiv, is not mandated by universities or funding
>> agencies, but is a free choice of authors seeking peer recognition and
>> visibility... The results of an analysis of SPIRES data on the citation
>> behaviour of HEP scientists is presented... demonstrat[e] the "green"
>> Access advantage in HEP... With the term "gold" Open Access we denote the
>> free online availability of a scholarly publication on the web site of a
>> scientific journals.... There is no discernable citation advantage added
> by
>> publishing articles in "gold" Open Access journals...
>>> ...
>>> 7. Conclusions
>>> Scholarly communication is at a cross road of new technologies and
>> publishing models. The analysis of almost two decades of use of preprints
>> and repositories in the HEP community provides unique evidence to inform
> the
>> Open Access debate, through four main findings:
>>> 1. Submission of articles to an Open Access subject repository, arXiv,
>> yields a citation advantage of a factor five.
>>> 2. The citation advantage of articles appearing in a repository is
>> connected to their dissemination prior to publication, 20% of citations
>> HEP articles over a two-year period occur before publication.
>>> 3. There is no discernable citation advantage added by publishing
> articles
>> in "gold" Open Access journals.
>>> 4. HEP scientists are between four and eight times more likely to
> download
>> an article in its preprint form from arXiv rather than its final
>> version on a journal web site.
>>> Taken together these findings lead to three general conclusions about
>> scholarly communication in HEP, as a discipline that has long embraced
> green
>> Open Access:
>>> 1. There is an immense advantage for individual authors, and for the
>> discipline as a whole, in free and immediate circulation of ideas,
> resulting
>> in a faster scientific discourse.
>>> 2. The advantages of Open Access in HEP come without mandates and
>> debates. Universal adoption of Open Access follows from the immediate
>> benefits for authors.
>>> 3. Peer-reviewed journals have lost their role as a means of scientific
>> discourse, which has effectively moved to the discipline repository.
>>> HEP has charted the way for a possible future in scholarly communication
>> to the full benefit of scientists, away from over three centuries of
>> tradition centred on scientific journals. However, HEP peer-reviewed
>> journals play an indispensable role, providing independent accreditation,
>> which is necessary in this field as in the entire, global, academic
>> community. The next challenge for scholarly communication in HEP, and for
>> other disciplines embracing Open Access, will be to address this novel
>> conundrum. Efforts in this direction have already started, with
> initiatives
>> such as SCOAP3...
Received on Tue Jul 21 2009 - 11:29:28 BST

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