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Re: Alma Swan: The OA citation advantage

On Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 9:53 PM, Philip Davis <pmd8@cornell.edu> wrote:

> Stevan,
> First of all, I did not state in my critique of the Swan report
> (http://j.mp/d91Jk2) that meta-analysis was Alma's idea, but that
> this was your suggestion (as posted to liblicense-l,
> sigmetrics-l, and other listservs).
> Secondly, you keep trying to divert criticism of your
> colleague's work by critiquing my own work, as if *"your best
> defense is a good offense."* You've posted 5 rapid responses
> to the BMJ 2008 paper and another rapid response to the BMJ
> editorial.
> [http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/337/jul31_1/a568#top ] I've
> responded to your concerns and have better things to do than
> engage in an endless discussion with you when there is
> absolutely no hope of changing your mind. You can continue to
> plaster the Internet with your critiques and astonishment that
> I haven't responded if this makes you feel better. I have
> students to teach and a dissertation to write.
> --Phil Davis

The message below is forwarded from David Wilson, with permission
[references and links added]:

[See also (thanks to Peter Suber for spotting this study!):
Wagner, A. Ben (2010) Open Access Citation Advantage: An
Annotated Bibliography. Issues in Science and Technology
Librarianship. 60. Winter 2010


Date: March 17, 2010 11:17:10 AM EDT (CA)
From: David Wilson dwilsonb -- gmu.edu
Subject: Re: Comment on Meta-Analysis
To: harnad -- ecs.soton.ac.uk


Interesting discussion.  Phil Davis has a limited albeit common
view of meta-analysis. [http://bit.ly/bCKzWk] Within medicine,
meta-analysis is generally applied to a small set of highly
homogeneous studies.  As such, the focus is on the overall or
pooled effect with only a secondary focus on variability in
effects.  Within the social sciences, there is a strong tradition
of meta-analyzing fairly heterogeneous sets of studies.  The
focus is clearly not on the overall effect, which would be rather
meaningless, but rather on the variability in effect and the
study characteristics, both methodological and substantive, that
explain that variability.

I don't know enough about this area to ascertain the credibility
of his criticism of the methodologies of the various studies
involved.  However, the one study that he claims is
methodologically superior in terms of internal validity (which it
might be) [http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/jul31_1/a568]
is clearly deficient in statistical power.  As such, it provides
only a weak test.  Recall, that a statistically nonsignificant
finding is a weak finding -- a failure to reject the null and not
acceptance of the null.

Meta-analysis could be put to good use in this area.  It won't
resolve the issue of whether the studies that Davis thinks are
flawed are in fact flawed. It could explore the consistency in
effect across these studies and whether the effect varies by the
method used.  Both would add to the debate on this issue.

[Lipsey, MW & Wilson DB (2001) Practical Meta-Analysis. Sage.]

Best, Dave

David B. Wilson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Chair, Administration of Justice Department
George Mason University
Manassas, VA  20110-2203