Re: Whether Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 20:52:08 -0500

On 11-Jan-10, at 6:03 PM, Joseph Esposito wrote:

> This is tiresome.
> There is no OA Advantage not because of the merits or limitations
> of OA but because all these purported advantages and
> disadvantages are based on the pseudo-science of quantifying what
> is not entirely quantifiable.

It's not really "science," it's just counting and some statistics.
Science is rather deeper than that.

But OA articles are indeed cited more. And we have now shown that
making articles OA causes the higher citeability, rather than the
higher citeability causing them to be made OA.

What is relevant is whether it is true, not whether it is tiresome.

> Citation count or page views or
> downloads or whatever are useful *approximations* of some
> qualities of materials, but an approximation is not the same
> thing as the underlying value, which is subject to various
> interpretations.

All quantitative measures are approximations, some closer and better
approximations than others.

All data are subject to interpretations, some better than others.

> You might as well base a college admissions
> program on the sole criterion that a math score of 710 is
> unquestionably better than one of 700.

The point here is lost on me. Presumably picking candidates with
scores of 700 over candidates with scores of 600 can be reasonable
(ceteris paribus). The rest is just about the closeness of the

> These comments apply to subscription-based publishing as well as
> to OA publications.

Citations (and other quantitative measures) are widely used, for a
variety of purposes (some commercial). Neither citations nor the OA
citation advantage is unique to (gold) OA publications. In fact, all
of our data were based on non-OA publications, comparing articles
published in the same non-OA journal/year that were or were not made
(green) OA through author self-archiving. Gold OA journal articles
were systematically excluded because there was no basis for comparison.

> I know the fashion is to shut down humanities departments or
> simply to starve them (or at least all of the adjuncts who work
> there) to death, but could we not reintroduce some judgment into
> this discussion?

The point is again lost on me. The finding that mandated OA (for peer-
reviewed journal articles) generates just as big an OA citation
advantage as self-selected OA was not focused on humanities,
particularly; it was true of all disciplines. And what does that have
to do with shutting down departments?

> And while we are at it, how about a simple
> experiment: those who wish to publish with an OA service do so,
> and those who don't, don't.

You got it almost right. But it's not about publishing with an OA
"service." It's about making published articles (green) OA by self-
archiving them. You may perhaps have heard that there is growing
momentum from institutions as well as funders to mandate OA self-
archiving. Well the new evidence that OA increases citations is meant
to increase that momentum. Apologies if that news is tiresome...

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Jan 12 2010 - 01:53:15 GMT

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