Saturday, October 15. 2005
I have re-done the UK calculation for Australia as follows (see this article in The Australian: Higher Education):
Australia is losing about $425 million dollars worth of potential return on its public investment in research every year. The Australian Research Councils spend about $1 billion dollars yearly, which generate about 32,000 research journal articles... The online-age practice of self-archiving has been shown to increase citation impact by a dramatic 50-250%, but so far only 15% of researchers are doing it...The marginal dollar value of one citation was estimated by Diamond in 1986 to range from $50-$1300 (US), depending on field and number of citations. (An increase from 0 to 1 citation is worth more than an increase from 30 to 31; most articles are in the citation range 0-5.) If we update by about 170% for inflation from 1986-2005 ($85.65-$2226.89) and convert from US dollars to Australian dollars, this yields the range $113-$2942 as the marginal value of an Australian citation to its author today. Self-archiving, as noted, increases citations by 50-250%, but, as also noted, only 15% of the articles being published are being self-archived today.That has in turn elicited the following (anonymized) query:
I'm afraid that's not it. But the actual connection between the two figures (the tax-payer's $425 million loss and the researchers' $1.5 million loss) is actually very simple, even if the explanation is a bit long-winded:"I'm having trouble reconciling the fact that the annual loss of $1,536,800 divided by the number of articles not archived (27,200) comes to $56.50 per article, half the stated value of a citation, $113... Does the following capture the meaning? (And if not, what do you mean?)"A 50 per cent citation increase added to a calculated $113 per citation, multiplied by the 85 per cent of articles not self-archived, multiplied by $1 billion in research funding gives a loss of potential returns of $425 million."
Very important: The estimate of the value of a citation to a researcher (based on the Diamond data on citation revenue), totalling to a $1.5 million loss for the 85% of researchers who don't self-archive, is not at all the same estimate as the $425 million loss for the Australian tax-payer. The bigger figure is based on return on the tax-payer's investment, in terms of citations. Citations are the measure of the tax-payer's value-for-money. Unused research is research that may as well not have been funded by the tax-payer: it's as if it had not been done at all. Citations are the measures of usage: how much is the research I fund being applied and built upon?
So the best analogy on which to think of it is to think of the tax-payer as being like the buyer of a battery. A battery gets him 10 hours of usage. But evidence shows that if he refrigerates the battery before usage, he gets 50% more usage hours from the battery (15 hours). So if he pays $1 for the battery and doesn't refrigerate it, he only gets 10 hours of usage. He has lost 5 hours, or 50 cents' worth of potential usage for his money.
That's exactly the way not-self-archiving loses 50% of the potential usage (citations) on Australia's $1 billion research spend. (Actually $425 million, because about 15% of Australian researchers already do self-archive: 50% x 85% of the current citation total that $1 billion buys = $425 million's worth of citations.)
So if the Australian funding councils mandated self-archiving (as the RCUK is planning to do in the UK), then that would increase the return on their research investment by $425 million.
Notice that the $113/56.50 revenue increase to researchers does not enter into this figure at all. That is a different matter. (If the ARC spend had been a less round figure than $1 billion, it would have been more obvious that the two have nothing to do with one another, apart from both being multiples of .5 and .85!)
If you want to see the connection between the return on the research investment to the research funder/tax-payer, which is reckoned in terms of the degree to which the research is actually put to use -- i.e., cited -- and the Diamond estimate of the worth of a single citation to a researcher, the way to understand it is this: The reason we have the "publish or perish" mandate already is to make sure that the research we pay researchers to do is actually made available to be used and applied. So a much rougher estimate of the return on the research investment would be: number of publications. In the paper era, it was the number of publications that research employers (universities) and funders used to count and reward with salary increases etc. They were rewarding publishing in order to get what they really wanted, which was that the research should be used, applied, built-upon, so it could bring further benefits to the tax-payer funding it. Publish-or-perish was the incentive used to get the researchers to make their research known and available for use, and the number of articles published was the (crude) measure of the return on the research investment.
But today, in the online age, we see that publication-counting is too crude a measure of the return on the research investment (because work may be published, yet not used). What we need to reward is not just the number of publications, but the number of times they are used (cited). Citation-counting had already started before the online era; that's why Diamond was already able, in 1986, to make his estimate of the amount that one citation is worth to a researcher. What has really changed since then with the increasing spread of the online medium is the possibility of increasing the usage (citations) by 50%+ through self-archiving.
Hence to maximise the return (in terms of usage and citations) on the Australian investment in research, it is not enough to reward researchers for publishing (publish or perish), nor even to reward them per citation: self-archiving must be mandated. (It was possible to mandate "publish or perish." It is not possible to mandate "get-cited or perish," because the author cannot cite himself [or rather, self-citations don't count]. But it is possible to mandate "self-archive your publications or perish," because the author can self-archive them himself, thereby maximising citations!)
So in exchange for 100% self-archiving, Australia will get 50% (x 85%, since 15% already self-archive) more citations for the money it has spent on research ($425 million's worth more citations/usage) and Australian researchers will be rewarded for their pains (of self-archiving) by the revenue from 50% x $113 = $56.50 per article times 85% of the total of the 32,000 total article output (27,200) = $1.5 million more research revenue.
Does that make it clearer?
One more thing: The 50% increase in value-for-money for the Australian tax-payer (and to Australian research progress) -- $425 million's worth of citations -- as well as the 50% increase in reward to the Australian researcher ($56.50 per citation) are in part (not in all, but in part) a competitive advantage, because the evidence on the 50%-250% increase in citations from self-archiving itself consists at least in part of a competitive advantage (a head start), based on comparing the number of citations for self-archived articles with the number of citations for non-self-archived articles in the same journal, same year.
Obviously, once self-archiving reaches 100%, the portion of the self-archiving advantage that is competitive -- the edge that the self-archived article has over its non-self-archived competitor -- will vanish. The playing field will be level. There will still be an overall advantage for the tax payer, because all research will be accessible to all potential users (and not just, as now, the research that each researcher's own institutions can afford to subscribe to), so it will all be used more, but only some of it will be cited more (and some of it may even be cited less), for it will be merit and relevance alone that decide what research is used, unbiassed, as it is now, by affordability/accessibility.
It's been shown that even at 100% self-archiving, although researchers don't cite more than they did before, downloads, for example, increase by 300%. Downloads are a measure of usage too: Before you can cite an article, you have to access it, and more downloads mean more accesses.
But overall, another incentive for Australia to mandate self-archiving now is that the race is to the swift and the battle to the strong (i.e., this is partly a horse-race): Those who mandate self-archiving first gain a competitive advantage over those who do not. That increases the incentive, within Australia, for institutions to mandate self-archiving as soon as possible, for a bigger piece of the competitive pie, before it all levels out. And it also increases Australia's incentive to mandate self-archiving nationally, in its competition with other nations for research pre-eminence: If Australia were among the first to mandate self-archiving, it would give itself an immediate competitive boost, till other nations caught up.
But of course, research itself, worldwide, is the ultimate beneficiary of levelling the playing field, so the accessibility and hence the usage of research is maximised for the whole planet's research output.
(It is partly because of the competive ("head-start") advantage, which will shrink as we approach 100% self-archiving, that I used only the most conservative end of the observed 50%-250% citation advantage: 50%).
Friday, October 14. 2005
On Thu, 13 Oct 2005, Sally Morris (ALPSP) wrote in the SPARC Open Access Forum:
SM: "As far as the 'self-archiving' route to OA is concerned, I must have explained our concern a hundred times; let me spell it out yet again:But if, as all the studies to date show, library patrons use the licensed library published version for those articles that their libraries can afford, and use the author's self-archived OA version for those they cannot, what is Sally's and ALPSP's rationale for keeping them deprived of the articles their libraries cannot afford? and for keeping the authors of those articles deprived of that usage and impact? Is the rationale that the need to protect publishers' from any possibility of risk of a decline in subscription revenues (for which there does not yet exist even a single shred of evidence today) takes precedence over all these author and user needs -- i.e., over all of these research/researcher needs?
Nor do subscriptions and cancellations depend primarily on the "rational librarian": they depend on their user/author communities, who are not calling for cancellations, but for access to what their libraries cannot afford, and for the impact that their own articles lose, from users at other institutions whose libraries cannot afford the journal they were published in.
SM: "If subscriptions fall dramatically, journals will no longer be viable and will cease publication."Repeating this "a hundred times" and a hundred times more does not make it one whit more a statement of actual fact, rather than just the counterfactual "if/then" conjecture that it is, and continues to be, with not a shred of evidence to support its "if"-premise
I advise Sally that before the Frankfurt Scientific Publishing Meeting she should attend the STM session at the Frankfurt Book Fair in which Michael Kurtz of astrophysics of Harvard will be presenting the data of Edwin Henneken on the usage of the ADS system by astrophysicists (article forthcoming in D-Lib), showing how they switch from using the preprint to using the publisher's published version as soon as it is available -- except those who cannot afford access, who continue to use the self-archived postprint.
SM: "If journals are no longer there to carry out their current functions (not just the management of peer review, but also selection/refinement/collection of content of particular relevance to a given community of interest) that will be a great loss to scholarship."So would every other negative if/then counterfactual that I or Sally or Pascal or anyone else could dream up, but that doesn't make their if-premises any truer either, not even after being repeated thousands of times. And the more you keep raising the hypothetical ante, the more ominous it sounds -- without becoming one bit truer.
Why do not Sally Morris and the ALPSP embrace the many potential new ways to collaborate with and benefit from researcher self-archiving and institutional repositories, instead of fixating so single-mindedly on trying to fend off the optimal and inevitable for as long as possible?
SM: " I do not argue that society or indeed other publishers have any right to continue to perform their current function. I'm just pointing out that they may be unable to do so if self-archiving sweeps the board as some would like it to do. That is why we are urging caution to those who would mandate immediate self-archiving."Self-archiving mandates are not for "sweeping the board," they are for providing access to those researchers who actually can't afford it today, and thereby providing their lost impact to the research and researchers that are actually losing it today. The sweepingly overboard statements about counterfactual disaster scenarios, in contrast, are coming from those who are trying to protect actual, unchanged publisher revenue streams from counterfactual, hypothetical risk, at the cost of certain and sizeable benefits to research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, and the public that funds their research -- i.e., the canid rather than its queue.
Re: New ALPSP study on the effects of Open Access on scholarly publishingWithout prejudice as to the reliability and validity of the ALPSP study, I must point out (wearily, yet again) that this was not a study of "the effects of OA on scholarly publishing" nor of "the facts about Open Access".
It was a study of OA publishing (i.e., of the journals that currently make their own contents freely available on the web, how they currently make ends meet, what their current quality levels are, and how they currently implement peer review). The main findings are that: (1) many current OA journals do not use the OA cost-recovery model, (2) some current OA journals are having trouble making ends meet, (3) some current OA journals may have lower quality standards.
These findings have nothing whatsoever to do with OA self-archiving, nor with the proposed RCUK OA self-archiving mandate. They are about current OA publishing only.
Touting them as being "The facts about Open Access" and as revealing "the effects of Open Access on scholarly publishing" is utter nonsense and very much in the spirit of ALPSP's rather strained efforts to give the impression that there is any objective evidence at all that OA self-archiving has a negative effect on journal publishing. There is and continues to be no such evidence, and this study provides no such evidence. The survey merely repeats the (well-known, well-aired) opinion of some publishers that "disastrous consequences" are imminent.
Using the data on the current status of OA publishing as if it had any bearing at all on OA self-archiving is drubbing Peter (self-archiving) to pox Paul (OA publishing). This strategy may be sufficient to dupe DTI for a bit but sooner or later sensible people are bound to twig on the fact that it is nothing but a smoke-screen.
I am quite confident that the RCUK consists of such sensible people.
Monday, October 10. 2005
Although Richard Monasterky describes a real problem -- the abuse of journal impact factors -- its solution is so obvious one hardly required so many words on the subject:
A journal's citation impact factor (CIF) is the average number of citations received by articles in that journal (ISI -- somewhat arbitrarily -- calculates CIFs on the basis of the preceding two years, although other time-windows may also be informative.)
There is an undeniable relationship between the usefulness of an article and how many other articles use and hence cite it. Hence CIF does measure the average usefulness of the articles in a journal. But there are three problems with the way CIF itself is used, each of them readily correctable:
(1) A measure of the average usefulness of the articles in the journal in which a given article appears is no substitute for the actual usefulness of each article itself: In other words, the journal CIF is merely a crude and indirect measure of usefulness; each article's own citation count is the far more direct and accurate measure. (Using the CIF instead of an article's own citation count [or the average citation count for the author] for evaluation and comparison is like using the average marks for the school from which a candidate graduated, rather than the actual marks of the candidate.)So, yes, CIFs are being misused and abused currently, but the cure is already obvious -- and a wealth of powerful new resources are on the way for measuring and analyzing research usage and impact online, including (1) download counts, (2) co-citation counts (co-cited with, co-cited by), (3) hub/authority ranks (authorities are highly cited papers cited by many highly cited papers; hubs cite many authorities), (4) download/citation correlations and other time-series analyses, (5) download growth-curve and peak latency scores, (6) citation growth-curve and peak-latency scores, (7) download/citation longevity scores, (8) co-text analysis (comparing similar texts, extrapolating directional trends), and much more. It will no longer be just CIFs and citation counts but a rich multiple regression equation, with many weighted predictor variables based on these new measures. And they will be available for both navigators and evaluators online, and based not just on the current ISI database but on all of the peer-reviewed research literature.
Meanwhile, use the direct citation counts, not the CIFs.
Some self-citations follow:
Brody, T. (2003) Citebase Search: Autonomous Citation Database for e-print Archives, sinn03 Conference on Worldwide Coherent Workforce, Satisfied Users - New Services For Scientific Information, Oldenburg, Germany, September 2003
Brody, T. (2004) Citation Analysis in the Open Access World Interactive Media International
Brody, T. , Harnad, S. and Carr, L. (2005) Earlier Web Usage Statistics as Predictors of Later Citation Impact. Journal of the American Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST, in press).
Hajjem, C., Gingras, Y., Brody, T., Carr, L. & Harnad, S. (2005) Across Disciplines, Open Access Increases Citation Impact. (manuscript in preparation).
Hajjem, C. (2005) Analyse de la variation de pourcentages d'articles en accès libre en fonction de taux de citations
Harnad, S. and Brody, T. (2004a) Comparing the Impact of Open Access (OA) vs. Non-OA Articles in the Same Journals. D-Lib Magazine, Vol. 10 No. 6
Harnad, S. and Brody, T. (2004) Prior evidence that downloads predict citations. British Medical Journal online.
Harnad, S. and Carr, L. (2000) Integrating, Navigating and Analyzing Eprint Archives Through Open Citation Linking (the OpCit Project). Current Science 79(5):pp. 629-638.
Harnad, S. , Brody, T. , Vallieres, F. , Carr, L. , Hitchcock, S. , Gingras, Y. , Oppenheim, C. , Stamerjohanns, H. and Hilf, E. (2004) The Access/Impact Problem and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access. Serials Review, Vol. 30, No. 4, 310-314
Hitchcock, S. , Brody, T. , Gutteridge, C. , Carr, L. , Hall, W. , Harnad, S. , Bergmark, D. and Lagoze, C. (2002) Open Citation Linking: The Way Forward. D-Lib Magazine 8(10).
Hitchcock, S. , Carr, L. , Jiao, Z. , Bergmark, D. , Hall, W. , Lagoze, C. and Harnad, S. (2000) Developing services for open eprint archives: globalisation, integration and the impact of links. In Proceedings of the 5th ACM Conference on Digital Libraries, San Antonio, Texas, June 2000., pages pp. 143-151.
Hitchcock, S. , Woukeu, A. , Brody, T. , Carr, L. , Hall, W. and Harnad, S. (2003) Evaluating Citebase, an open access Web-based citation-ranked search and impact discovery service. Technical Report ECSTR-IAM03-005, School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton
This is the text of the letter that will appear in Research Fortnight. That's half of what I submitted. The full text I submitted follows immediately afterward.
Letter to appear in Research Fortnight
In its editorial in the last issue, Research Fortnight declares neutrality and in the same breath breaches it:
"Research Fortnight does not publish learned journals and has no reason to defend commercial publishers, but the publishers are right when they say that self-archiving as proposed by Research Councils UK will stop new journals being launched and cause existing journals to close."There is a profound conflict of interest between - on the one hand - what is in the best interests of research, researchers, their institutions, their funding councils and the tax-paying public that funds the research and - on the other hand - what is in the best interests of the publishing community. Research Fortnight's position is virtually identical with that of the publishing community, as expressed most vocally by Sally Morris of the Association for Learned and Professional Society Publishers.
The concerns of the publishing community are with preventing any risk of subscription cancellations that might be induced by self-archiving. But self-archiving has now been going on for over 14 years, and in physics reached 100 per cent in some fields years ago. Yet both of the major physics publishers (the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics) report that (1) they detect no diminished subscriptions due to self-archiving, (2) they do not consider self-archiving a threat, and (3) they cooperate with and even host a mirror site of the physics self-archives at their own websites.
Hence the hypothetical risk from which publishers seek protection does not even have any objective evidence in its support. The evidence is that self-archiving and journal-publishing co-exist peacefully. In contrast, the objective evidence for the actual benefits of self-archiving to research exists and is very strong: Articles that are self-archived are cited (hence used, applied and built upon) 50 per cent - 250 per cent more than articles that are not.
Full submitted text (including what will not appear):
Research Councils UK (RCUK) have proposed mandating that all RCUK fundees must deposit ("self-archive") the final drafts of their research on the web, free for all would-be users whose institutions cannot afford the published version, as a condition of receiving public funding, in order to maximise the usage and impact of their UK research output, and thereby the return on the UK public's investment in funding it. RF declares neutrality, and in the same breath breaches it:
"Research Fortnight does not publish learned journals and has no reason to defend commercial publishers, but the publishers are right when they say that self-archiving as proposed by Research Councils UK will stop new journals being launched and cause existing journals to close."There is a profound conflict of interest between what is in the best interests of research, researchers, their institutions, their funding councils, and the tax-paying public that funds the research, on the one hand, and what is in the best interests of the publishing community on the other hand. RF's position is virtually identical with that of the publishing community, as expressed most vocally by Sally Morris of the Association for Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP).
The concerns of the publishing community are with preventing any risk of subscription cancellations that might be induced by self-archiving. But self-archiving has now been going on for over 14 years, and in physics reached 100% in some fields years ago, yet both of the major physics publishers (APS and IOP) report that (1) they detect no diminished subscriptions due to self-archiving, (2) they do not consider self-archiving a threat, and (3) they cooperate with and even host a mirror site of the Physics self-archives at their own websites.
Hence the hypothetical risk from which publishers seek protection does not even
have any objective evidence in its support, all evidence being that
self-archiving and journal-publishing co-exist peacefully. In contrast, the
objective evidence for the actual benefits of self-archiving to research exists
and is very strong: Articles that are self-archived are cited (hence used,
applied and built upon) 50%-250% more than articles that are not. I did a
matchbox calculation showing that since only 15% of UK articles are currently
being self-archived this amounts to a loss of at least 50% x 85% = £1.5 billion
worth of potential return on RCUK's annual £3.5 billion research investment,
reckoning that return in terms of lost potential research usage. RF
"This argument... [not] peer-reviewed or published... is so
A transparent match-box calculation whose outcome seems to be uncongenial to
some ears is discounted by RF for not having been "peer-reviewed." One wonders if, following the same logic, RF would have discounted the following unrefereed observation:
Ludicrous? In need of peer review? A waste of space to bother refuting? Or dismissed only as a consequence of having listened only to the battery-makers who say that self-refrigerating "will stop new battery-makers being launched and cause existing battery-makers to close" rather than to the needs of the battery-using (and subsidising) public?Prior (published) evidence has shown that placing unused batteries (cost, £1 apiece) in the refrigerator increases their hours of usage by 50%, but only 15% of users refrigerate them. We accordingly point out here the following match-box calculation: The 85% of battery-users who are not refrigerating their batteries are losing 50p's worth of potential usage, hence 50p's worth of value for their money.
Saturday, October 8. 2005
Is the ALPSP public announcement (reproduced from Peter Suber's Open Access News at the end of this message) really true? Has ALPSP indeed been privately promised veto/embargo power over the RCUK self-archiving policy?
I very much hope the ALPSP public announcement is not true, and that ALPSP is again merely overstating its case (vastly), because otherwise it sounds as if RCUK has effectively agreed to make the RCUK policy conditional on whether and when each publisher agrees. If that were true it would mean that the RCUK self-archiving policy was even weaker than the deeply flawed NIH policy (with its built-in 12-month embargo), indeed, that the RCUK policy was no policy, mandate or requirement at all, but merely a pointer to each publisher's policy.
The optimal RCUK policy would of course be:
Plan A: to mandate both (1) depositing the full text and metadata immediately upon acceptance for publication and (2) setting full-text access as Open-Access immediately upon acceptance for publication.But if RCUK feels for some reason it cannot mandate that at this time, the next best thing is certainly:
Plan B: to mandate (1) depositing the full text and metadata immediately upon acceptance for publication and to also strongly recommend (2) setting full-text access as Open-Access immediately upon acceptance for publication. (If the author prefers, for articles in the <10% of journals that have not yet given OA self-archiving their blessing, full-text access can be temporarily set as Institution-Internal-Access, and external eprint requests to the author -- based on the immediate webwide visibility and accessibility of the OAI metadata -- can be made and filled by email for the time being.)Plan B would immediately remove the RCUK policy from the reach of the ALPSP lobby completely, because only deposit would be mandated, whereas OA access-setting would merely be recommended. Nothing else would then need to be stipulated at all in the RCUK policy -- about publisher policy, copyright or embargoes.
To instead build into the RCUK policy a veto and embargo power at each publisher's discretion would be counterproductive in the extreme, not only for the RCUK policy's capacity to provide OA to British research output, but for its capacity to serve as a model for other nations the wrold over that are closely watching what RCUK will do, and likely to emulate it.
We need further public clarification on this from RCUK. Otherwise, if uncontested by RCUK, ALPSP's public statement (below) -- claiming to have already received RCUK's agreement to grant publishers veto and embargo power over whether and when the full-text deposit is made -- will cause negative ripples worldwide through rumour alone, giving the impression that there is in fact no RCUK self-archiving policy at all, but simply a deferral to whatever policy each publisher may or may not happen to have on the matter.
From Peter Suber's Open Access News
Friday, October 7. 2005
Prior American Scientist Open Access Forum Topic Thread
This is a critique of the second unsigned article about the proposed RCUK self-archiving mandate that has appeared in Research Fortnight (the first appeared September 14):
Someone evidently has Research Fortnight's unsigned article's author's ear (and it's certainly not your humble archivangelist):"The Dangers of Open Access, RCUK Style"
In place of this risibly unnecessary knock-down counter-argument, we accordingly have this:RF: "Stevan Harnad, professor of cognitive science and one of the most vocal advocates of open access, believes the UK is not maximising the benefits of its research spend. In his words: 'the UK is losing £1.5 billion annually, in the potential impact of its scientific research spending.'
It is interesting that a transparent match-box calculation whose outcome seems to be uncongenial to some ears is discounted by our anonymous author for not having been "peer-reviewed." One wonders if, following the same logic, Research Fortnight would have discounted the following unrefereed observation:RF: "What is interesting, though, is that Harnad's paper has been self-archived on the University of Southampton's own e-print site and shows no signs of having been peer-reviewed or published elsewhere."
"Prior (published) evidence has shown that placing unused batteries (cost, £1 apiece) in the refrigerator increases their hours of usage by 50%, but only 15% of users refrigerate them. We accordingly point out here the following match-box calculation: The 85% of battery-users who are not refrigerating their batteries are losing 50p's worth of potential usage, hence 50p's worth of value for their money."Ludicrous? In need of peer review? A waste of space to bother refuting? Or dismissed only as a consequence of having listened only to the battery-makers who say that self-refrigerating "will stop new battery-makers being launched and cause existing battery-makers to close"?
Is Research Fortnight having difficulty distinguishing between research content and trivial, transparent arithmetic? And does the ironic call for "peer review" come from Research Fortnight or the disgruntled battery-makers to whom they have lent their ear, monaurally? (Should the anonymous statement "the publishers are right when they say that self-archiving as proposed by Research Councils UK will stop new journals being launched and cause existing journals to close" likewise have been subjected to peer review?)RF: "This demonstrates one of the problems of a switch to open access publishing [sic]: the pollution of the corpus of scholarship by papers that have not been subject to sufficient quality control."
I leave it to the research community to decide who is not thinking arguments through, or even listening to them disinterestedly.RF: "It also shows that advocates of open access have not thought through their arguments."
(The rest of the unsigned Research Fortnight article is an echolalic transcript -- uncritical and unfiltered -- of the by now very familiar arguments we have kept hearing from certain (non-research) lobbyists against OA and self-archiving, with no sign of having been thought through [let alone peer-reviewed] by Research Fortnight, or anyone else.)
My advice to Research Fortnight, if it has any wish to play the role of honest broker in this important issue for research and researchers: Audi Alteram Partem. So far, Research Fortnight has now failed deplorably in that role, twice.
Prior AmSci Topic Thread (started September 16, 2005):On Thu, 6 Oct 05, Sally Morris (ALPSP) wrote:
SM: "Interesting that Stevan chooses to ignore key points in my message: IOP didn't say 'the opposite' at all - they said subs hadn't been affected 'yet'; as Ken Lillywhite's message makes clear, they fully expect subs to suffer as the logical consequence of the fall in downloads - and Bob Michaelson's message shows that their fear is justified?"Please do look again, Sally, as I did duly note the "yet":
And the target of "opposite" was also fully clarified:SH: "'Yet' can quite safely and reasonably be appended to everything I have seen and heard, and it makes not a whit of difference."
 -  are all true, and constitute the substance of what we are talking about: ("Is there any evidence that self-archiving causes cancellations?" Answer: No. "Is IOP opposing self-archiving ?" Answer: No.)SH: "What I should have said was that the diminished article downloads do not equal, nor do they imply, diminished subscriptions, and that IOP had said exactly the opposite: That despite replication in a repository (ArXiv) IOP had  found no diminished subscriptions,  does not consider self-archiving a threat,  cooperates with Arxiv, and indeed  will soon be hosting a mirror of Arxiv.
You, dear Sally, have instead always refocused the question from objective evidence (about actual self-archiving and actual cancellations) to subjective worries (about possible future cancellations) for which there is as yet no objective evidence at all. And you have tried (but were, I am afraid, destined to be unsuccessful) to interpret the perfectly true, but perfectly irrelevant statement that IOP has recorded lower downloads at its website, as if it were evidence of present or future cancellations. It is not:
So please do keep the two propositions in focus:SH: "This statement [that IOP finds diminished downloads for self-archived articles] is perfectly true but in no way implies what ALPSP cites it to imply (i.e., that diminished downloads are evidence that self-archiving causes cancellations), for that is the exact opposite of what the Institute of Physics has said (Swan & Brown 2005)."
True: IOP website downloads are reduced by self-archivingThese are the objective facts. The rest is about subjective worries, which, with Rene Descartes, I tend to regard as incorrigible (to the worrier), hence impenetrable to doubt (by the worrier), yet eminently fallible. (I cannot doubt that I have a tooth-ache, when I have a tooth-ache, but I can doubt that the tooth-ache means there's anything wrong with my tooth, even though it feels like it: it might be referred pain from another organ, or even just neurasthenic pain.)
As to librarian anecdotes about cancellation practices: First, you will agree that they do not amount to much until/unless they translate into measurable objective effects (which both APS and IOP have said they could not detect, across 14 years of self-archiving). Apart from that, librarian anecdotes can be freely traded. Here's one of my favorites:
In my next posting, I will turn to the consequences of failing to exercise the Cartesian faculty of critical analysis, one-sidedly hewing to subjective worries, while ignoring objective counter-evidence. I will do a critique of the following unsigned article that has just appeared in Research Fortnight:"Personal communication from a UK University Library Director: 'I know of no HE library where librarians make cancellation or subscription decisions. Typically they say to the department/faculty 'We have to save ?X,000" from your share of the serials budget: what do you want to cut?'. These are seen as academic --not metrics-driven -- judgements, and no librarian makes those academic judgements, as they are indefensible in Senate' [S]uch decisions are almost always wholly subjective, not objective, and have nothing to do with the existence or otherwise of repositories'."
"The Dangers of Open Access, RCUK Style"
Tuesday, October 4. 2005
Prior Amsci Topic Thread:On Mon, 3 Oct 2005, Sally Morris (SM) of ALPSP wrote in SOAF:
SM: "The problem is, there is no evidence of correlation between citations and the return on research expenditure."Citations are one direct, face-valid measure of return on research expenditure. Research is funded in order to be applied and built-upon, i.e., to be used; citations are an index of that usage. Uncited, unused research may as well not have been conducted, and represents no return on the research investment. Whatever increases usage and citations, increases the return on the research investment. Any loss of such a potential increase is a loss of potential return on the research investment.
Self-archiving increases citations 50%-250%. Hence the failure to self-archive loses 50%-250% of the potential return on the research investment.
SM: "I haven't been able to trace many analyses which do look at this (Don King will know, if anyone does) but those I've read look at output of articles, registration of patents, and Gross Domestic Product."Article counts are a measure of the return on the research investment, but far too crude a measure, for, as noted, the articles may not be used.
Patents are pertinent only to a tiny portion of the research literature, so have insufficient generality to be a useful general measure of research impact. Moreover, they are often based on unpublished research, whereas self-archiving and the OA movement are directed specifically at published research. However, patent counts and citation counts are in fact positively correlated:
Gross domestic product is again too crude. Most basic research is too far from practical applications to contribute to the GDP. But one thing is certain: If a piece of research is to make a contribution to the GDP, it must be accessible to its potential appliers. Self-archiving substantially increases accessibility, as indicated by the fact that it generates substantially more citations."patent volume is positively correlated with paper citations, suggesting that patent counts may be reasonable measures of research impact" Agarwal, A. & Henderson, R. (2002) Putting Patents in Context: Exploring Knowledge Transfer from MIT. Management Science 48 (1), 44-60
I too would be interested, however, to know of studies correlating GDP with citation counts.
SM: "Clearly, we are a long way off being able to analyse whether or not self-archiving (or any other form of open access) does or does not contribute to these objective output measures."I thought the question was about whether citation counts are correlated with these measures. We already know that self-archiving is correlated with increased citation counts.
SM: "But to pretend that we 'know' citations are a proxy for any of them is not, to my mind, an argument that holds any water"The claim was not that citations are a proxy for GDP, but that citations are a (face-valid) measure of the return on the investment of public funds in research -- and, more particularly, that the loss of potential citations is the loss of potential returns on the investment of public funds in research (lost "value for money").
SM: "Stevan, I know what you're going to say so please don't bother - frankly, I am more interested in hearing what other people have to say"Sally, I'd be pleased to obey your request not to reply to you, if this were only a private conversation between you and me. But, you see, others are involved too, in particular, researchers and their interests. You appear to be concerned about hypothetical future losses to publishers because of self-archiving -- losses for which there exists no evidence at all to date. I am concerned about actual current losses to researchers because of not self-archiving -- losses for which the sizeable positive correlations between self-archiving and citation counts, and between citations counts and researcher revenue (in terms of both salary and research funding) constitute strong positive evidence.
See, for example, the many studies showing the correlation between RAE rankings and citation counts, as cited in Harnad, Carr, Brody & Oppenheim (2003): "Mandated online RAE CVs linked to university eprint archives: Enhancing UK research impact and assessment"
In particular, Eysenck & Smith (2002) write:
Stevan Harnad"Correlation between RAE ratings and mean departmental citations +0.91 (1996) +0.86 (2001) (Psychology)"
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