Defining embargo periods by discipline?

Pikas, Christina K. Christina.Pikas at JHUAPL.EDU
Fri Mar 1 16:02:10 EST 2013

Citation half-life is one measure that has been suggested, but clearly that doesn't optimize access. I think any citation-based measure will lag too far - particularly in areas where it can take a year for the "early view" to become officially "published." Perhaps downloads or usage would be a better thing to look at. Look at the shape of the curve and see where the bump is and draw a line there? The bump would shift if there's significant media coverage, too.  I was looking in some of MJ Kurtz' papers because I think he had a graph that would illustrate what I'm saying, but I'm not finding it immediately.

Physics and astro publishers have not experienced significant cancellations based on arXiv and making backfiles freely available (AAS). Biomedical publishers may not have had the same experience. 


Christina K Pikas
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Christina.Pikas at
(240) 228 4812 (DC area)
(443) 778 4812 (Baltimore area)

-----Original Message-----
From: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics [mailto:SIGMETRICS at] On Behalf Of David Wojick
Sent: Friday, March 01, 2013 3:11 PM
Subject: Re: [SIGMETRICS] Defining embargo periods by discipline?

Thank you Loet; the NSF list is a very good candidate as NSF is one of the lead agencies in this rulemaking.

I cannot give you an example of a proper embargo period as I am looking for an analytical way to find such, but I can explain the concept. Abstractly the proper embargo period is the shortest one that does not damage the journals in the discipline financially because of significant subscription cancellations. The idea is that this period varies by discipline due to differences in the rate of diffusion of research results.

The evidence offered for embargo periods greater than the OSTP default period of 12 months is usually that citations peak later than this, which seems like a reasonable argument. It might also allow for periods shorter than 12 months. Mind you this evidence is merely indirect but for administrative purposes we need a simple formula. When citations peak seems like a reasonable candidate but I wonder if anyone has really looked at this issue? It is clearly scientometric in nature and the future of the scholarly publishing industry may depend on it.

All my best,


At 02:18 PM 3/1/2013, you wrote:
>Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe):
>Dear David,
>1. for the disciplinary delineation, I would first look at the NSF-list 
>13 broad fields (as used for the S&E Indicators). The advantage is that 
>the list is seriously updated each two years by our colleague Ken 
>Hamilton and that there is investment in its quality. There are many 
>other classifications.
>2. Can you provide an example of "a proper embargo period"?
>Loet Leydesdorff
>Professor, University of Amsterdam
>Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR), Kloveniersburgwal 
>48, 1012 CX Amsterdam.
>Tel.: +31-20- 525 6598; fax: +31-842239111 loet at ; 
> ; 
>-----Original Message-----
>From: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics 
>[mailto:SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU] On Behalf Of David Wojick
>Sent: Friday, March 01, 2013 5:44 PM
>Subject: [SIGMETRICS] Defining embargo periods by discipline?
>Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe):
>Dear Group,
>I have begun to work on the design issues for a new federal green OA 
>system as raised by the recent U.S. OSTP Memo. See 
>One of the most interesting issues is defining different embargo 
>periods for different disciplines. There is a clear scientometrics component to this.
>Therefore I am asking if anyone knows of any research that speaks to 
>this issue? My first impression is that the citation pattern over time 
>is the only analytical framework that has been explored but I may be 
>wrong. In any case we seem to be breaking new ground with this policy issue.
>There are actually two distinct issues. First how do we define a 
>discipline for regulatory purposes? Second how do we determine the 
>proper embargo period for each discipline? The latter is perhaps the 
>harder question. Your thoughts will be greatly appreciated.
>My best regards to all,

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