Open access, readership, citations: a randomized controlled trial of scientific journal publishing

Cristóbal Palmer cristobalpalmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 30 14:30:40 EDT 2011

On Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 1:54 PM, Philip Davis <pmd8 at> wrote:
> The concept of information diffusion is abstract so one must employ proxies to measure it. Prior studies focus almost entirely on citations, which measures a very narrow form of diffusion --incorporation by a scientific researcher in a published document. We extend our measurements to include article downloads (abstract, fulltext and pdf) as well as visitors (as measured by unique IP addresses). You will find a more complete discussion of this in our article.

I like the extended measurements and the discussion, and I think I did
understand your operationalization on the first read, but I'm still
confused as to your answer to your own question. Is it:

a) No, diffusion (as it has historically been operationalized) does
not increase, but there are nice side effects (eg. practitioners
reading/linking literature), or
b) Yes, diffusion does increase, but by diffusion we mean something
different than others have meant in the past (eg. practitioners
reading/linking literature).

I think the answer does not matter in terms of facts in the world
(they are the same answer), but it does matter in terms of advocacy
for a position for or against more use of open access by scholars and
their host institutions, and I'm more interested in your rationale for
or against than I am a restatement of what's in the paper that I've
read 1.5 times now.

I wouldn't be interested in the answer had you not framed the question
the way you did. Your phrasing is highly loaded, such that a "no"
answer discounts the value of open access. No judgement from me on
that; I just want to understand where you're coming from and why.

Cristóbal M. Palmer systems
UNC Chapel Hill

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