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Re: Does the arXiv lead to higher citations and reduced publisher downloads?

Stevan Harnad wrote:

"What your data show is that the OA Advantage (which everyone confirms) is stronger on the high-end, and this could either be because people tend to self-archive high-end articles more (QB), or because the OA Advantage is stronger on the high end (QA). Either way it's a quality effect. One way it's a Quality Bias (QB), the other way it's a Quality Advantage (QA). You think it's mostly QB, I think it's mostly QA. The data are compatible with both. More fine-tuned causal tests are needed to decide."

Phil Responds:

Stevan, you seem to be referring repeatedly to your web blog, "Open Access Archivangelism", that

OA Impact Advantage = EA + (AA) + (QB) + QA + (CA) + UA

While I certainly agree that a citation advantage can have multiple and conflating causes, you call the result of all of these causes the "Open Access Advantage". In your equation, ALL possible causes (early view, arXiv, quality bias, quality advantage, competitive advantage, and usage advantage) can support your OAA theory. This is problematic on a fundamental scientific level for two reasons:

1) You call the citation differential an "Open Access Advantage", thus affirming that access is both the cause and effect of the phenomena. This is a circular argument. But more importantly,

2) Your theory is unrefutable. When everything confirms the Open Access Advantage, OAA becomes meaningless as a scientific theory. The philosopher of science Karl Popper would have called OAA "unfalsifiable" and therefore unscientific.

So if you insist on describing a possible quality differential between articles deposited in the arXiv and those that are not an "Open Access Advantage", then I have merely reaffirmed that our results support OAA. But so does the weather, the stock market, and my horoscope for today (which by the way, says that I should avoid Sagittarius)

--Phil Davis