Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, April 15, 2004

ISI report on the impact of OA journals

Thomson ISI has just released a report by James Testa and Marie E. McVeigh, The Impact of Open Access Journals. Excerpts:

Recently, we have witnessed a major shift in the landscape of publishing. Open Access, once a minor tremor, now dominates discussion everywhere. Each week brings a new declaration from a major society, publisher, consortium, or government agency taking one side or another on this important topic. [...]

Do open access journals have greater impact than those that do not allow free access to all readers? This question is important at ISI because our mission is to help researchers find the highest quality scholarly literature, regardless of its business model....The current study is part of an ongoing analysis within ISI of the overall performance of OA journals. [...]

ISI currently covers nearly 200 OA journals in its products (See Appendix I for a list of titles). This number, though small in comparison to the total number of journals in ISI's databases, is quite significant in terms of the progress made by the OA movement....We have not included journals for which only part of the content is freely available --when the archive is openly accessible but the most recent issues are not, for example.

We have found that the number of OA journals identified as Open Access and covered in ISI databases is growing rapidly, partly because new journals are founded and older journals are changing their access models, but also because better lists of such journals are becoming available. Each of the OA journals covered by ISI was subjected to the same rigorous selection process as any other journal included. These journals all adhere to high publishing standards, are peer reviewed comparably to other journals in their respective fields, and are cited at a level that indicates they compete favorably with similar journals in their field. The chief difference between these and some other journals covered by ISI is that the entire content of the OA journals is available without cost to the user.

The report presents data by discipline and year. In some disciplines there are OA journals in the top rank of impact factors, and in other disciplines there are not. In some disciplines, OA journals exceed the average ISI journal for citations to older articles (say, those from 1999) and in some fields they don't. Even if the performance of OA journals is in flux in all disciplines, this is a detailed and important snapshot that deserves close study. (Thanks to Jill O'Neill on Information Community News.)