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Re: OA in High Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation Advantage

On Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 3:07 PM, Dana Roth 
<dzrlib@library.caltech.edu> wrote:

> Given the results of this article and the very narrow 
> scientific interest in high energy physics articles, what is 
> the point of SCOAP3 - other than to absolve authors of any 
> responsibility for the costs of maintaining the peer-review 
> system, and to maintain the enormous disparity in subscription 
> costs between commercial and non-profit high energy physics 
> journals?

Although I am not sure it is based on quite the same reasoning, 
Dana Roth's conclusion is basically right. SCOAP3 is a 

HEP physicists virtually all self-archive, spontaneously, since 
1991. This Green OA has greatly enhanced both the speed and the 
impact of their research. The obvious take-home message from this 
is that other fields should do likewise (and since most evidently 
aren't doing it spontaneously, their institutions and funders 
should mandate Green OA).

But instead of working to spread Green OA to other fields of 
physics and beyond, what is the HEP community doing? It is 
promoting a pre-emptive Gold OA consortium, SCOAP3, that is 
neither needed by HEP nor serves the interests of other fields. 
Moreover, SCOAP3 is almost certainly neither scaleable nor 
unsustainable (being based on an internally incoherent notion of 
annual collective prepayment to multiple vendors). SCOAP3 is a 
somnambulistic non-sequitur, not to be emulated.

What is to be emulated is HEP's highly productive practice of 
self-archiving, which is what has brought all the genuine 
benefits. And since it is evident after 18 years that this 
emulation is not going to happen spontaneously, it should be 
universally mandated by institutions and funders, in the 
interests of research and researchers in all fields, worldwide, 
so all may reap the genuine benefits of Green OA, at long last, 
as HEP has been doing since 1991 (and computer scientists since 
even earlier): http://bit.ly/16yfRl

(In my own commentary on the Gentil-Beccot et al. (2009) article 
I ignored SCOAP3 in order to keep the focus on the substantive 
part, which is the demonstrated benefits of Green OA, rather than 
veering off into voodoo economics. I note that with but a 
fleeting mention of SCOAP3 at the very end of their article, 
Gentil-Beccot et al. avoided this non-sequitur too.)

Stevan Harnad

> Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2009 8:09 PM Subject: OA in High 
> Energy Physics Arxiv Yields Five-Fold Citation Advantage
> Version with hyperlinks:
> http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/607-guid.html
> Gentil-Beccot, Anne; Salvatore Mele, Travis Brooks (2009) 
> Citing and Reading Behaviours in High-Energy Physics: How a 
> Community Stopped Worrying about Journals and Learned to Love 
> Repositories
> This is an important study, and most of its conclusions are 
> valid:
> (1) Making research papers open access (OA) dramatically 
> increases their impact.
> (2) The earlier that papers are made OA, the greater their 
> impact.
> (3) High Energy Physics (HEP) researchers were among the first 
> to make their papers OA (since 1991, and they did it without 
> needing to be mandated to do it!)
> (4) Gold OA provides no further impact advantage over and above 
> Green OA. However, the following caveats need to be borne in 
> mind, in interpreting this paper:
> (a) HEP researchers have indeed been providing OA since 1991, 
> unmandated (and computer scientists have been doing so since 
> even earlier). But in the ensuing years, the only other 
> discipline that has followed suit, unmandated, has been 
> economics, despite the repeated demonstration of the Green OA 
> impact advantage across all disciplines. So whereas still 
> further evidence (as in this paper by Gentil-Beccot et al) 
> confirming that OA increases impact is always very welcome, 
> that evidence will not be sufficient to induce enough 
> researchers to provide OA; only mandates from their 
> institutions and funders can ensure that they do so.
> (b) From the fact that when there is a Green OA version 
> available, users prefer to consult that Green OA version rather 
> than the journal version, it definitely does not follow that 
> journals are no longer necessary. Journals are (and always 
> were) essentially peer-review service-providers and cerifiers, 
> and they still are. That essential function is indispensable. 
> HEP researchers continue to submit their papers to 
> peer-reviewed journals, as they always did; and they deposit 
> both their unrefereed preprints and then their refereed 
> postprints in arxiv (along with the journal reference). None of 
> that has changed one bit.
> (c) Although it has not been systematically demonstrated, it is 
> likely that in fields like HEP and astrophysics, the journal 
> affordability/accessibility problem is not as great as in many 
> other fields. OA's most important function is to provide 
> immediate access to those who cannot afford access to the 
> journal version. Hence the Early Access impact advantage in HEP 
> -- arising from making preprints OA well before the published 
> version is available -- translates, in the case of most other 
> fields, into the OA impact advantage itself, because without OA 
> many potential users simply do not have access even after 
> publication, hence cannot make any contribution to the 
> article's impact.
> (d) Almost no one has ever argued (let alone adduced evidence) 
> that Gold OA provides a greater OA advantage than Green OA. The 
> OA advantage is the OA advantage, whether Green or Gold. (It 
> just happens to be easier and more rigorous to test and 
> demonstrate the OA advantage through within-journal comparisons 
> [i.e Green vs. non-Green articles] than between-journal 
> comparisons [Gold vs. non-Gold journals].)
> Stevan Harnad