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Re: BioMed Central's open letter to the UK Science Minister, responding to inaccurate comments about open access.

I agree in part with what Matthew says. The trend is the key. However it
still seems to me that he is some way defending the claim set out in his
letter to the UK minister. The statement is:

"Secondly, the proportion of authors publishing in an open access journal
has grown considerably from 11 per cent (2004) to 29 per cent".

You can deduce (because the survey is mentioned in a previous sentence)
that this statement reflects the CIBER research, which records author
statements of what they have done. However Matthew knows as well as I do
that the claim is easily detached from its origin - because it is stated
as a fact - and it will now be repeated ad nauseam.

For example the editor of a new journal hosted by BMC states categorically
(reference does not link through) that:

"About 20% of the total number of articles published annually are Open
Access. [http://www.head-face-med.com/content/1/1/1]";

I wonder where this information came from.

Since I posted it has been pointed out to me that the total archive in
DOAJ is 80,000 articles. This is only one tenth of what is covered by the
Science Citation Index in one year. There are of course in all disciplines
lots of other journals being published which are not covered by the SCI.
Would 1% of all peer-reviewed articles currently being published in OA
journals be a good guess?

To me the interesting question is if awareness of OA is growing among
scholars (and surely this must be the case) why does the sample here think
they are publishing in OA journals when they cannot be doing so? I am
putting on one side the possibility that the survey is skewed in favour of
OA enthusiasts because they are keen to fill in surveys of this type: the
other answers do not seem to show this to be the case.

For obvious reasons, although I am a director of CIBER, I have nothing to
do with this survey either the methodology or the writing up of the
report. I am hoping however that drilling down into the free form answers,
which is currently being undertaken, will throw some light on this
interesting question. It is not just publishers who should be interested
but all those librarians "educating" faculty.

Anthony Watkinson

----- Original Message -----
From: "Matthew Cockerill" <matt@biomedcentral.com>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 2:11 AM
Subject: RE: BioMed Central's open letter to the UK Science Minister,
responding to inaccurate comments about open access.

> Anthony,
> I couldn't agree more that the figures in such surveys need to be
> interpreted with a great deal of caution.
> The caveat in the survey says :
> "This finding needs to be interpreted with caution: parallel research by
> Elsevier suggests that up to 65% of authors may confuse the concept of
> `open access' journals with toll journals that are freely available to
> them at the point of use."
> Since no reference is given, it's not easy to know how to interpret that
> statement, or what kind of evidence Elsevier has that authors are confused
> in this way with respect to open access. Note that even if some authors
> may initially make that misunderstanding, the CIBER survey provides
> extensive context through its questions about open access as a new model
> of publishing, which seems to me to make it unlikely that many authors
> would have completely misunderstood what was meant by open access
> publishing, when they responded to that question.
> More importantly, though, in the letter BioMed Central was citing the
> statistics from the consecutive CIBER surveys in 2004 and 2005, to make
> one point and one point only - that Open Access appears, from the evidence
> available, to be a growing phenomenon, not one that has, to use Lord
> Sainsbury's term, "peaked". And so the point is not the absolute figures
> involved (which I agree are subject to various caveats), but the growth
> from year to year. Even if some fraction of authors did misinterpret the
> question each time, the growth in those responding 'Yes' from year to year
> seems pretty unambiguous.
> Best regards,
> Matthew Cockerill, Ph.D.
> Publisher
> BioMed Central ( http://www.biomedcentral.com/ )
> London
> Email: matt@biomedcentral.com