[Journal-notes] Re: Open access to research worth £1.5bn a year

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Thu Sep 22 21:40:22 EST 2005


On Thu, 22 Sep 2005, Peter Banks wrote:

> No, you are not missing something, Sally. The reporter who covered this so
> uncritically and without analysis was the one missing something.

I am afraid that Peter Banks has either not read or has not quite
understood what I (as opposed to the reporter) actually wrote:
    http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/28-guid.html

> I am not trained as an economist, but Professor Harnad's analysis seems
> based on so many untested assumptions and leaps of logic that I am not
> sure what we can draw from it.
> 
> In particular, the work of Diamond which Harnad uses to set the value of a
> citation was meant to quantify the value of a citation to the earnings of
> a professor, not the value to society. I am not sure how Harnad makes the
> jump from individual to collective benefit.

But Banks is quite right about Diamond's data. And in my own article I
make that point quite explicit: The Diamond calculation is a separate
calculation, based on the value of the citation to the earnings of the
professor, not to society:

    "Self-archiving, as noted, increases citations by 50-250%...
    the most conservative... of these estimates (50% citation increase
    from self-archiving at £46 per citation)...  translates into an
    annual loss of £2, 541, 500 in revenue to UK researchers"

But then I also go on to say:

    "But this [50-250%] impact loss translates into a far bigger one
    for the British public, if we reckon it as the loss of potential
    returns on its research investment. As a proportion of the RCUK's
    yearly £3.5bn research expenditure (yielding 130,000 articles x 5.6 =
    761,600 citations), our conservative estimate would be a 50% x 85%
    x £3.5.bn = £1.5bn worth of loss in potential research impact (323,680
    potential citations lost). And that is without even considering the
    wider loss in revenue from potential practical applications and usage
    of UK research findings in the UK and worldwide, nor the still more
    general loss to the progress of human inquiry."

So the Diamond estimate did not even enter into my estimate of the UK's
£1.5bn worth of loss in potential research impact.

> Moreover, Harnad seems to make the assumption that the 85% of research
> that is not self-archived is unavailable for citation. In the field of
> diabetes, this is clearly not the case. Of the most cited journals in
> diabetes (Diabetes, Diabetes Care, J Clin Endo Metab, and Diabetologia),
> the first three make virtually all accepted papers quickly available. ADA
> enables any author to post accepted manuscripts in institutional archives
> immediately on acceptance and makes full text available after three
> months. It is unlikely that self-archiving would have much of an impact on
> citation rate.

The 50-250% impact advantage is based on comparing the number of citations
for articles (within the same journal and year) that are and are not
freely accessible on the web:

    http://www.crsc.uqam.ca/lab/chawki/graphes/EtudeImpact.htm
    http://citebase.eprints.org/isi_study/

If a journal makes all of its articles immediately accessible free, it is
an OA journal (and it does not enter into our calculation of the OA
advantage, it's all numerator and no denominator).

Of course the articles in a non-OA journal are also available for citation
-- to all those who have access to the non-OA version. That version is
used and cited (the denominator is not zero), but the articles that have a
self-archived OA version get used and cited more, and that is the point.
They can be accessed by those would-be users whose institutions cannot
afford access to the non-OA version.

And over 90% of journals are now -- like Diabetes, Diabetes Care, J Clin
Endo Metab -- green on author self-archiving. Nevertheless, only 15% of
authors are self-archiving. And that too is the point -- and the point of my
article, which was written in support of the RCUK's proposal to mandate
self-archiving.
    http://romeo.eprints.org/

As to delayed access -- whether the delay is 3 months, 6 months, 12
months or more: Delayed access is not open access, and delayed access
does not maximise usage and citations, which is, again, the point. In
fact, early access and usage -- at the growth region of new research,
is often the most important in rapidly developing research. The "Early
Advantage" is one of the (at least six) components of the OA Advantage:

    "EA: EARLY ADVANTAGE, beginning already at the pre-refereeing
    preprint stage. Research that is reported earlier can begin being
    used and built upon earlier. The result turns out to be not just
    that it gets its quota of citations sooner, but that quota actually
    goes up, permanently.  This is probably because earlier uptake has
    a greater cumulative effect on the research cycle."
    http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/29-guid.html

See the findings of Kurtz, in astrophysics: http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/~kurtz/

> The most worrisome aspect of Harnad's analysis is that it may allow
> legislators to dodge the real problem behind lack of scientific
> progress--the underfunding of research--and instead pin their hopes on the
> magic bullet of self-archiving.

Research is indeed underfunded, but that has nothing whatsoever to do
with the fact that research is also underused because it is not widely
enough accessible. Self-archiving will not remedy the former, but that is
certainly no reason it should not remedy the latter.

Stevan Harnad

> Peter Banks
> Acting Vice President for Publications/Publisher
> American Diabetes Association
> 1701 North Beauregard Street
> Alexandria, VA 22311
> 703/299-2033
> FAX 703/683-2890
> Email: pbanks at diabetes.org
> 
> >>> sally.morris at alpsp.org 09/21/05 7:37 PM >>>
> 
> Am I alone in failing completely to understand the basis for Stevan's
> calculation of the 1.5 bn?  It seems to be (hypothetical (and as far as I
> can follow, unexplained) figure) x (hypothetical figure) x (hypothetical
> figure).  Am I missing something?
> 
> Perhaps someone could explain it to me nice and slow...
> 
> Sally Morris, Chief Executive
> Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
> Email:  sally.morris at alpsp.org 
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Hamaker, Chuck" <cahamake at email.uncc.edu>
> To: <liblicense-l at lists.yale.edu>
> Sent: Sunday, September 18, 2005 5:30 PM
> Subject: Open access to research worth £1.5bn a year
> 
> > Subject: Open access to research worth £1.5bn a year
> >
> > Open access to research worth £1.5bn a year
> > Published Friday 16th September 2005 10:39 GMT
> > The Register
> >
> > Academic cries freedom
> > By Lucy Sherriff
> > Published Friday 16th September 2005 10:39 GMT
> >
> > The UK is losing out on its investment in scientific research to the tune
> > of £1.5bn every year, according to advocates of open access publishing.
> >
> > Professor Stevan Harnad from the University of Southampton argues that
> > because of the tradition of locking the results of publicly funded
> > research away in research journals the scientific community is not as free
> > to build on and develop ideas as it should be.
> >
> > He calculates that if all published work was self-archived (i.e. made
> > available online, after publication in a journal), the research impact
> > would be the equivalent of a further £1.5bn investment in UK science,
> > every year.
> >
> > He argues that only researchers working at institutions that can afford
> > journal subscription fees have access to published research, and offers
> > his backing to the Research Councils UK (RCUK) proposal that all publicly
> > funded research should be made available on the research institution's
> > website.
> >
> > SEE this URL for rest of article and a link to Dr. Harnad's research on 
> > this:
> > http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/09/16/free_access_research/ 
> >
> > ####
> 
> 




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