Barbara Kirsop, OA 'a small idea'?, Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, September 22, 2008.
A recent contributor to the [American Scientist Open Access Forum], Joe Esposito, made statements that need addressing. He said, in relation to the semi-automated ability to request copies of papers of articles archived in OA Institutional Repositories, ‘Most authors, of course, will not be troubled much with requests because the articles are indeed available to most researchers through institutional subscriptions’, and later ‘. . . OA has little impact’, and finally ‘OA is a small idea’. ...
If it is true, as he states, that ‘the articles are available to most researchers through institutional subscriptions’, how is it that when material *is* made OA, hundreds and thousands of articles are downloaded daily? ... Researchers in the developing world – as has been reported many times and is now well acknowledged – can afford few or even no subscriptions (see for eg New England Journal of Medicine 350, no. 10 (2004): 966–968, showing that in a WHO survey of medical institutes in developing countries there had been *no* subscriptions to journals over the previous 5 years by 56% of institutes in the poorest countries). Globally, no library can afford all the journals it would wish to subscribe to.
In spite of research findings to the contrary, he also concludes that ‘OA has little impact’. But people have different interpretations of what is ‘impact’. To some, it just means citations. Important, yes, but as all researchers know, at the start of a new project, it is standard practice to find and read a considerable number of papers, some recent, some not, and the knowledge this provides feeds into their future work, directing their understanding, broadening their horizons, providing technical information (methods, procedures . .) and only a little of this will be cited in future publications. This ‘impact’ arising from their reading and discussions with colleagues is near-immeasurable, but is essential to the successful conduct of research programmes. If impact equals recorded future usage, statistics of the magnitude of downloads being shown from OA IRs ... and OA Journals ... now demonstrate clearly that this information, previously locked away in vaults, is needed and downloaded by researchers for professional purposes, not for fun. ...
Gavin Baker at 9/25/2008 09:53:00 PM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.