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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The elements of the OA impact advantage

Stevan Harnad, OA Impact Advantage = EA + (AA) + (QB) + QA + (CA) + UA, a preprint, self-archived March 14, 2006.
Abstract: The OA impact advantage arises from at least the following 6 component factors, three of them (2,3,5) temporary, three of them permanent (1,4,6):
  1. 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.
  2. (AA): ARXIV ADVANTAGE, the special advantage of self-archiving specifically in Arxiv for physicists, because it is a central point of call: OAI-interoperable Institutional Repositories is likely -- for many reasons -- to supersede this, so it will eventually make zero difference which OAI-compliant IR one deposits in, as access will be through OAI cross-archive harvesters, not directly through individual OAI Archives.
  3. (QB): QUALITY BIAS, arsing from article/author self-selection; this does not play a causal role in increasing impact: The higher-quality (hence also higher-impact) articles/authors are somewhat more likely to be self-archived/self-archivers in these early (15%) days of self-archiving: this bias will of course vanish as self-archiving approaches 100%).
  4. QA: QUALITY ADVANTAGE, allowing the high-quality articles to compete on a level playing field, freed of current handicaps and biasses arising from access affordability differences. A permanent effect.
  5. (CA): COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE, for self-archived papers over non-self-archived ones, in early (15%) days; this too will of course disappear once self-archiving nears 100%, but at this moment it is in fact a powerful extra incentive, for the low % self-archiving fields, institutions and individuals.
  6. UA: USAGE ADVANTAGE: OA articles are downloaded and read three times as much. This too is a permanent effect. (There is also a sizeable correlation between early download counts and later citation counts.)