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RE: Critique of OA metric


If we disagree then perhaps it's only subtly - the 'wrapper' is 
important, but surely the 'alerting wrapper' does not have to be 
the same entity as the 'quality wrapper'.  PubMedCentral and 
arXiv are 'alerting wrappers' - search engine place results from 
them high in result lists.  However, they do not directly provide 
a quality stamp for each individual paper.  That is what the 
journal does.  But from an alerting point of view I may be less 
interested in the fact that a paper has been published in Journal 
A and more interested in the fact that my esteemed colleague Joe 
Esposito has tagged it or given it five stars.  That's what I 
mean when I talk about alerting being less in the control of the 

I'm less sure about the PLoS One branding point - if PLoS fulfils 
the needs of authors and readers then it will create its own 
brand (or at least mini-brand with the wider PloS brand).  From 
its success to date I would say that it is well on the way to 
doing that.

And on Anthony's point about authors not wishing to submit their 
papers to databases?  Perhaps I'm being too reductionist, but in 
a sense aren't all online journals 'just' databases.  They all 
have peer-review but some - almost all - add a 'relevance' filter 
to limit the number of items in the database (as a hangover of 
limited space in print copies) and others - PLoS One - don't 
because they have unlimited space.(because space was limited in 
print copies and valuing journal brands is well taken.

From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Joseph Esposito [espositoj@gmail.com]
Sent: 29 October 2009 22:19
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Critique of OA metric

David's post is an interesting one.  He is certainly correct that 
search engines (Google is simply the most prominent, but not the 
only means of discovery) "atomize" collections of papers.  This 
could lead someone to believe that the "wrapper" of an atomized 
article is no longer important, but this overlooks the mattter of 
search engine rank.  It is one thing to find an article about 
hypertension or a specific aspect of materials science, quite 
another for that article to rise to the top of a long list of 
potentially relevant Web sites.  For search engine ranking, such 
matters as brand are very important, as they collect online 
attention and links and lead to higher scoring.

If you don't believe this, try it.  Create a Web site (it takes 
two minutes) using a blogging service such as WordPress.  Post an 
article to it.  Post another article (or the same one) to an 
established online venue.  The article in the established venue 
will show up higher in search engine rankings.

As a footnote, I don't believe David is correct in his discussion 
of PLOS One.  PLOS One is borrowing the brand of the PLOS 
flagship journals.  This is a tricky business.  It works fine 
until it doesn't.  Readers are coming to PLOS One (presumably 
authors, too) thinking they are getting the editorial rigor of 
the PLOS flagships, but they aren't.  Can this go on forever? 
Perhaps.  But consider this:  when you buy a telephone handset 
for a landline phone that bears the AT&T brand, does it matter 
that AT&T has not manufactured handsets in years?  It matters to 

Joe Esposito

On Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 3:54 PM, David Prosser
<david.prosser@bodley.ox.ac.uk> wrote:

> It is simple to conceive of a decoupling between the journal
> 'quality' brand (is the research correct?) and the journal
> 'alerting' brand (here is a group of articles that may be of
> interest to you) as described by Sally.  In the print world
> grouping papers thematically together made perfect sense; in
> the online world where people increasing use search engines
> (whether specific, like Medline, or general, like Google) to
> find papers it is perhaps less useful.
> So, a journal table of contents e-mail may be useful, but
> equally I may be more interested in seeing the daily digest of
> papers with a particular tag in Connotea, say. That way the
> community would define its own interests rather than having the
> collection codified by an editor.  And different communities
> could combine the content of different journals in different
> ways.  This to me is what PLoS One has done - provide the
> quality brand, but leave the 'what's this journal about' to the
> readers.  It seems inevitable (and was once titles and
> abstracts went online!) that the 'alerting' brand is going to
> become less and less within the control of publishers and more
> in the control of users.
> David
> David Prosser
> SPARC Europe