On not conflating the give-away and non-give-away literature

Stevan Harnad harnad at ECS.SOTON.AC.UK
Fri Jun 18 13:19:12 EDT 2004

On Fri, 18 Jun 2004, Jan Velterop wrote:

> It may be good to move away from this notion of 'give-away' with its
> associations of philanthropy. Yes, scientists 'give away' their research
> articles. Would we also say that advertisers 'give away' their ads, even
> though they clearly do?

Yes, we would, and have, many times:


> There is a strong element of well-understood self-interest in the equation
> and that's just fine...  Publish or perish.

Yup, that's why we keep talking about maximizing access in order to maximizing
impact and its rewards -- to the researcher, the researcher's institution, the
research-funder, the research-funder's funder (the tax-payer) and to research

> Some of that self-interest is vested in 'prestige' metrics such as impact
> factors and that is where established journals have the edge.

No, it is OA that has the edge. OA is not about OA journal vs. non-OA
journal, it is about OA-article vs. non-OA article. For commensurability
purposes, it is best that articles being compared be in the same journal
and issue! See the following preprint, to appear in a few days in D-Lib
Magazine: http://www.dlib.org/


It originally appeared in this Forum. Follow these threads:

    "Re: How to compare research impact of toll- vs. open-access research"

> Funding bodies that favour open access will surely not frown upon a
> good article published by a grant applicant in an open access journal,
> even if it has no impact factor.

Agreed. And if it is OA, the article itself will have a citation count,
perhaps also a download count, which predicts eventual citations:


> [Journal] Impact factors, when they are high enough, impart the perception
> of prestige to authors, but good authors impart prestige to journals
> as well

Journal names impart prestige, but not quality. The quality comes from
the journal's peer-review standards (including rejection rate). But
these too are correlated with citation counts -- which are far more
informative if reckoned on an article basis rather than just on the
basis of the journal the article appeared in!

> And as soon as new open access journals have a decent impact factor, the
> benefits for the author of publishing in those journals are clear.

The success and value of peer-reviewed journals will continue to come
from what they always came from: from the quality standards for the
journal's content, i.e., its peer-review standards (and, of course,
a healthy flow of submissions that eventually meet those standards!)

It takes time for new journals to establish a track-record for quality, but
if they are OA journals they need not wait as long as new non-OA journals,
for their usage counts and citation counts will be available far earlier
(and they will be higher for being OA too).

(Having said that: an author need not publish in an OA journal for the benefits of
OA: They are there for the having if the author self-archives his non-OA journal
articles too!)

> On the basis of healthy self-interest, not 'give-away'.

The give-away has always been out of self-interest: to maximize usage and impact
(and their rewards) by maximizing access!

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
        To join the Forum:
        Post discussion to:
    american-scientist-open-access-forum at amsci.org
        Hypermail Archive:

Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.

More information about the SIGMETRICS mailing list