Open Access vs. Subscription Journals: An 83% Boost in Citations on Academia.edu?
If you visit the Academia.edu web site at present (http://bit.ly/1x6BSKM), you will encounter the claim that ‘a recent study found that papers uploaded to Adademia.edu receive an 83% boost in citations over 5 years.’ You will be able to read the study as well and view the data upon which the claim is based so that you can form your own opinion, but you may also want to read a recent post assessing the paper and its claim on the Scholarly Kitchen blog at http://bit.ly/1TRKvpS.
Although the author of the post considers most papers arguing that open access articles have a citation advantage ‘not worth reading,’ this paper is deemed ‘an exception,’ despite the fact that six of its eight authors are employees of Academia.edu. Those authors are said to adopt a rational perspective and sound methods, recognising the study’s limitations and not ignoring ‘research that contradicts their conclusions.’ Yet a ‘data problem’ centring on the control group of papers used in the study (which differs significantly from the research group) is identified and may explain why the boost in citations is so much higher in the study for articles posted on Academia.edu than for articles freely available from other open-access sites. The post concludes with the idea that ‘the huge citation boost to the Academia.edu group’ may not be attributable to open access or discoverability, but ‘explainable entirely by bad data.’
However the details of the paper and post are judged, they certainly form part of the ongoing and growing debate on the pros and cons of open access for scholarly publications, as the comments generated by the post make clear. If you are interested in reading more on the topic, there are a number of links among the comments that will lead you to some interesting articles, and an online search will reveal many more discussions with perspectives ranging as widely as the title openings ‘Not the Answer’ and ‘Why Open Access is Better’ suggest (see http://bit.ly/1IhTJXQ and http://bit.ly/1fmRu8N). A useful collection of articles gathered under the topic Academic Journal Debate can be found at http://bit.ly/1e87kod.
Open versus subscription access to research articles has clearly become a central issue in academic and scientific publication, and it is wise to be informed about at least some of the dynamics involved as you decide how and where you would like to publish your own scholarly work in order to achieve the impact you envision.
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