On Self-Selection Bias In Publisher Anti-Open-Access Lobbying

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2009 19:51:29 -0500

    [ The following text is in the "windows-1252" character set. ]
    [ Your display is set for the "iso-8859-1" character set. ]
    [ Some characters may be displayed incorrectly. ]

[hyperlinked version of this posting:

Response to Comment by Ian Russell on Ann Mroz's 12 November 2009
editorial "Put all the results out in the open" in Times Higher
Education: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/biography.asp?contact=3

It's especially significant that Ian Russell -- CEO of the Association
of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (which, make no mistake
about it, includes all the big STM commercials too) -- should be

"It?s not 'lobbying from subscription publishers' that has stalled
open access, it?s the realization that the simplistic arguments of the
open access lobby don?t hold water in the real world... [with] open
access lobbyists constantly referring to the same biased and dubious
?evidence? (much of it not in the peer reviewed literature)."

Please stay tuned for more peer-reviewed evidence on this, but for now
note only that the study Ian Russell selectively singles out as not
biased or dubious -- the "first randomized trial" (Davis et al 2008),
which found that "Open access [OA] articles were no more likely to be
cited than subscription access articles in the first year after
publication? -- is the study that argued that in the host of other
peer-reviewed studies that have kept finding OA articles to be more
likely to be cited (the effect usually becoming statistically
significant not during but after the first year), the OA advantage
(according to Davis et al) is simply a result of a self-selection bias
on the part of their authors: Authors selectively make their better
(hence more citeable) articles OA.

Russell selectively cites only this negative study, whose result is
more congenial to the publishing lobby, and selectively ignores as
"biased and dubious" all the positive (peer-reviewed) studies, as well
as thecritique of the study in question (as being based on too short a
time interval and too small a sample, not even replicating the effect
it was attempting to demonstrate to be merely an artifact of a
self-selection bias). Russell also selectively omits to mention that
even the Davis et al study found an OA advantage for downloads within
the first year -- with other peer-reviewed studies having found that a
download advantage in the first year translates into a citation
advantage in the second year (e.g., Brody et al 2006).

But fair enough. We've now tested whether the self-selected OA
advantage is reduced or eliminated when the OA is mandated rather than
self-selective. The results will be announced as soon as they have
gone through peer review. Meanwhile, place your bets...

Brody, T., Harnad, S. and Carr, L. (2006) Earlier Web Usage Statistics
as Predictors of Later Citation Impact. Journal of the American
Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) 57(8) pp.
1060-1072. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/10713/

Davis, PN, Lewenstein, BV, Simon, DH, Booth, JG, & Connolly, MJL
(2008) Open access publishing, article downloads, and citations:
randomised controlled trial British Medical Journal 337: a568

Harnad, S. (2008) Davis et al's 1-year Study of Self-Selection Bias:
No Self-Archiving Control, No OA Effect, No Conclusion.

Hitchcock, S. (2009) The effect of open access and downloads ('hits')
on citation impact: a bibliography of studies.
Received on Wed Nov 18 2009 - 00:52:35 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:49:59 GMT