Notes from the EDem10 — 4th International Conference on eDemocracy 2010, at the Danube-University Krems, and held in Krems, Austria, on May 6th and 7th, 2010. More notes on this event: edem10.
Open Access to Research: Changing researcher behaviour through university and funder mandates
Stevan Harnad, Université du Quebec à Montréal & University of Southampton
The common point between open access and democracy has a good example in Wikipedia’s outcome: though the mechanism of meritocracy is not that good. In Wikipedia, the criterion is not truth but notability. If everyone says that cows fly, this is what the Wikipedia will say, even if it is not true. We need some sort of mechanism, of metrics, to measure feedback. And open access can be a good base to that.
Open access means free, immediate, online access to the 2.5 million annual research articles that are published in all 25,000 peer-reviewed journals in all scholarly scientific disciplines. It is not about removing peer-review but, on the contrary, to bring access to scientific outcomes validated, legitimated, credited, certified by this peer-review system.
It is important to note that none of the authors of the 2.5 million articles wants money for their articles: it is attention and feedback they’re asking for. this is a radical difference from other authors that make a living from writing. And that is why open access focuses on scientific publications.
Other knowledge outputs as books, textbooks, magazine articles, newspaper articles, music, video, software, other “knowledge”, data, unrefereed preprints are just not a priority, because they are not peer-reviewed and because these are not all author give-aways, written only for usage and impact, or because the author’s choice to self-archive can only be encouraged, not required in all cases (the cases of data and preprints).
Two ways to provide open access.
- Green OA: once the article is accepted, the pre-print referee-accepted version is made open.
- Gold OA: open the published version, desirably the journal itself.
Reasons for open access: To maximise the uptake, usage, applications of a publication. Research open on the web has 25-50% more impact, and the better the article, the higher the impact of making that article open.
Surprisingly, despite the benefits still only a tiny fraction of researchers provide green access to their papers, and the only successful way so far has been mandates, mandates to provide green access enforced by funders and/or universities. Indeed, most researchers are for open access, but they just claim lack of time to do so, which means they would not oppose a mandate provided it came with the necessary resources to put it into practice.
Sample of candidate OA-era metrics: citations, CiteRank (like PageRank), co-citations, downloads, citations and downloads correlations, hub/authority index, chronometrics (latency, longevity), book index, endogamy/exogamy, links, tags, commentaries, journal impact factor, h-index (and variants), co-authorships, publication counts, number of publishing years, semiometrics (latent semantic indexing, text overlap, etc.), research funding, students, prizes, etc.
Q: what is then the future of journal publishing? A: for the time being, even in the areas where OA is higher, there has been no journal cancellations. Once everything is open access, many journals will have to change their business models, and only peer-review will remain: no archiving, no paper publishing, no online publishing, etc. And they will only need a small fraction of the money to be sustainable, and they’ll get if from funders, governments, universities, authors or whatever.
Brody et al. (2007) Incentivizing the Open Access Research Web: Publication-, Data-Archiving and Scientometrics. CTWatch Quarterly, 3(3).