Bio Saga Headlines

Bio Saga

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Open Online Access To Scientific Papers May Not Guarantee Wide Dissemination

If you offer something of value to people for free while someone else charges a hefty sum of money for the same type of product, one would logically assume that most people would choose the free option. According to new research in the February 20 edition of the journal Science, if the product in question is access to scholarly papers and research, that logic might just be wrong. These findings provide new insight into the nature of scholarly discourse and the future of the open source publication movement.

To test this theory, James A. Evans, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, and Jacob Reimer, a student of neurobiology also at the University of Chicago, analyzed millions of articles available online, including those from open source publications and those that required payment to access.

The results were surprising. On average, when a given publication was made available online after being in print for a year, being published in an open source format increased the use of that article by about 8 percent. When articles are made available online in a commercial format a year after publication, however, usage increases by about 12 percent.

"Across the scientific community," Evans said in an interview, "it turns out that open access does have a positive impact on the attention that's given to the journal articles, but it's a small impact."



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