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RE: Decision making by Libraries on serials and monographs and useage (re puzzled by self-archiving thread)

I am no economist so my questions are common-sense ones (I think)

Increasing access I can understand in principle - but how does 
one increase 'efficiency'(as an input)?  Your most prominent 
definitions of 'efficiency' are related to 'relevance' and I 
really don't see how that could be increased.  Wouldn't the 
arguments be more convincing if one looked at the increase in 
just one variable, anyway?

As to the one-to-one relationship between a given percentage of 
increased access (or anything else) and increased benefit - could 
you clarify that? I'm not assuming that most users have access 
already - just that those who do are likely to be those most able 
to benefit, and that ability to benefit will decline as access 
increases.  The same would go for any impact on the efficiency of 
the users' own research.

To a simple non-economist like me, it all seems to rest on huge 
and rather implausible assumptions...

Sally Morris
Email:  sally@morris-assocs.demon.co.uk

-----Original Message-----
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of John Houghton
Sent: 24 January 2007 13:01
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Decision making by Libraries on serials and monographs and
useage (re puzzled by self-archiving thread)

Dear Sally, et al.

1)  As outlined in our report (pp42-46) we introduce access and 
efficiency as negative variables, to reflect the fact that in the 
real world there is less than 100% access and efficiency. The 
basic result is that, if accessibility and efficiency are 
constant over the estimation period but then show a one-off 
increase (e.g. because of a move to open access) then, to a close 
approximation, the returns to R&D will increase by the same 
percentage increase as that in the accessibility and efficiency 

There are two reasons for our using the average rate of return to 
R&D, rather than the marginal rate (as I think you suggest). 
First, conceptually, the return relates to the expenditure, and 
we have not altered the level of expenditure in the model (its a 
given). So, one could argue that we should use the average rather 
than marginal rate of return. Second, more practically, no one 
really knows the marginal rate of return to R&D.

You assume that most potential users already have access. I am 
less confident that they do. For example:

      * Some smaller universities in Australia have quite limited access.
        If you look at recent CAUL statistics and take Victorian
        universities as an example, you can see that Monash (one of our
        larger research universities) reports 75,725 current serial titles
        in 2004, whereas the University of Ballarat reports 20,762.
        Obviously not all serials are journals, and not all the things
        needed at a large university will be needed at a smaller one, but
        such numbers are indicative of quite different levels of access -
        even amongst researchers.

      * Having an interest in the issue I often ask people in industry if
        and how they access journals and whether they think they would
        benefit from more access. It is anecdotal, but most executives of
        small firms in electronics, biotechnology, consulting engineering,
        management and economic consulting, etc. that I have spoken to say
        they have very limited access (mainly to print copies of titles
        from the one or two societies they belong to, or through
        association with one of the universities), and most say they need
        more and easier access.

      * Evidence of hits and downloads from institutional repositories and
        things like the Medline Index suggests that use is much wider than
        the limited audience reached by the subscription literature, both
        geographically and sectorally.

      * There is evidence that developing world participation in research
        is limited by their lack of timely and ready access.
      * etc.

Many of these issues are discussed, and references given in our

2)  Efficiency is being used in two senses... the usefulness/use
of the knowledge created by R&D and the efficiency of the conduct
of R&D. In the report (pp31-34 and Appendix II) we outline some
of the potential impacts of enhanced access, including a range of
ways in which the efficiency of research might be increased (e.g.
increased speed of discovery, reduction of duplicative research,
etc.) and its use might be extended (e.g. enhanced access to
industry, government and society, the emergence of new industries
such as weather derivatives, etc.). These are discussed in the
context of developing an "impacts framework" that focuses on the
issues of access, use and efficiency.

Lastly, the 5% figure is in the mid-range of the 1% to 10%
variation in the access and efficiency variables that we
'experimented' with in our estimations. It is hypothetical in the
sense that there is no metric that led us to 5% directly.
However, if one takes citation differences between subscription
and OA as a possible metric, it is worth noting reported examples
of OA papers getting 2-5 times the citations (e.g. Open Citation
Project references). Stevan's OA Advantage work suggests that
some of it will be ongoing and some not.... but twice as many
citations perhaps suggests something like a 100% increase in
access and use, and 5 times as many a 400% increase. So, our
hypothetical 5% is probably pretty conservative when set against
such metrics. On the other hand, of course, R&D produces
knowledge "outputs" other than publications. Tenopir and King
suggested that something up to 20% of researchers' time is spent
reading and writing, so if everything that researchers do
contributes to the R&D "stock of knowledge" then, simplistically,
publications account for 20% of the stock of knowledge. On that
basis, a 25% increase in access to publications alone would
produce a 5% increase in access to the stock of knowledge (other
things remaining the same).  On that "logic", our 5% is perhaps
at the conservative end of the kind of access impact implied by
the sustainable and continuing OA Advantage. Remember, our
analysis relates to any/all types of R&D outputs, not just
publications and not just journal articles.

Again, let me stress that this is preliminary work, the intention
of which is to begin to explore possible ways to make ballpark
estimates of the potential economic impacts of enhanced access.
It is one possible staring point...

DEST report - http://dspace.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/44485
CAUL Statistics - http://www.caul.edu.au/stats/

John Houghton

Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES), Victoria University
21 Munro Street, Curtin, ACT 2605  AUSTRALIA
E-mail: john.houghton@pobox.com
Web: www.pobox.com/~houghton