Kurtz, Michael and Brody, Tim
The impact loss to authors and research
Jacobs, Neil (eds.)
Open Access: Key strategic, technical and economic aspects.
The history of scientific communication is one of increasing access. The Gutenberg press allowed rapid and relatively inexpensive reproduction of the printed word. The advent of postal services allowed for the distribution of papers across countries and around the world by airmail.
Peer-reviewed journals created consistent collections of quality-controlled papers, distributed to a wider audience of subscribers. And, as the volume of journals increased, research libraries created collections of journals, catalogued, and made them accessible to patrons from the shelves. The web – and open access, OA – will allow anyone with an internet connection to access all the peer-reviewed literature anywhere, anytime. Increased accessibility of the peer-reviewed literature should allow that literature to have a greater impact on future research, which will improve the quality of that research.
Those who invest in and benefit from primary research, including the general public, have an interest in improvements to the quality of that research. The authors of the peer-reviewed literature also have an interest in increasing its impact, since that impact, as traditionally measured using citation counts, is a major element in the way their work is evaluated.
Without debating the merits of evaluation by citation counting, this does provide a measurable (potential) benefit for authors that provide OA to their research papers. If OA increases citation impact – due to a greater number of scientists being able to access the paper – that presents a strong self-interest argument to encourage authors to go OA. It also hints at the extent to which restrictive access policies negatively affect research and its potential impact on future work.
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