Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, May 31, 2007

More on the early access advantage

Stevan Harnad, The Early Access Advantage and Research Impact Loss, Open Access Archivangelism, May 31, 2007. 

Summary:  Early Access means starting the Open Access advantage (enhanced research usage and citations) earlier. This does not just mean phase-advancing the lifetime citation expectancy of an article (i.e., same total number of citations, but just starting earlier). Paper uploads generate downloads, which then generate usage and citations, which generate more downloads, which generate more usage and citations, etc. This interactive cycle can increase not just the onset of the citation curve, but its total area. And not just horizontally, but vertically: If it is obvious that it is not irrelevant to the usage and impact of a finding whether it is published two months before it is needed for use in a related study by another researcher, or ten years after, then it should not take much imagination (just a change in time-scale) to see how Early Access does not just mean earlier usage and citations but more usage and citations, because of the widening self-potentiating uptake cycle of research. And this of course applies to both preprints and postprints: An article that is published at time T but only made OA at time T + 12 months (embargo) stands to lose a good deal of its potential uptake and impact (especially in fast-moving fields) -- some of it lost forever; and meanwhile research loses widening cycles of potential progress. It is only to those who are straining to persuade us to resign ourselves passively to publisher embargoes -- as if they made no difference at all to our research usage, uptake, impact, and progress -- that these banal truths will be anything less than obvious.