In “Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research” (2010), Yassine Gargouri, Chawki Hajjem, Vincente Larivière, Yves Gringas, Les Carr, Tim Brody, and Stevan Harnad compare the relative impact of open access and non-open access articles that are archived in a repository because of mandate or due to self-selection. They confront the previously asserted conclusion that the so-called OA Advantage (i.e., the increased citation levels of OA articles) is a self-selection bias rather than a causal factor. This hypothesis claims that authors who choose to archive their work OA only do so for the “best” or most citable / most widely applicable research, so that naturally these articles would be cited more than others. Gargouri et al. take a social science approach to disproving this belief through a comprehensive study of journals that have both OA and non-OA articles, some of which have been archived due to mandate, and some of which have been archived by the author at their own prerogative. The authors conclude that “There is no detectable reduction in the size of the OA Advantage for Mandated OA (60%) compared to Self-Selected OA (15%)” (n.p.). There is no discernible difference in citation/impact between an article archived due to mandate (no author choice) or self-selection (author might choose best / most citable) — and both benefit from the increased findability and exposure that OA provides. The original hypothesis they aim to disprove, however, did leave me with questions. Are some researchers indeed only archiving what they see as their “most citable” work? And if so, why? If other research isn’t fit to be cited, why is it being published at all? I guess I’d better read the studies that Gargouri et al. are arguing against for the answers to those questions.
Overall, Gargouri et al. make a well-researched claim for OA publication — or at least archival. Although the majority of the article revolves around the specific methodology and results of their study, the authors also frame the study with a more generalist introduction, and a more pointed conclusion. At the beginning of the article, they write “OA is not just about public access rights or the general dissemination of knowledge: It is about increasing the impact and thereby the progress of research itself” (n.p.). Gargouri et al. close by calling on all institutions and funders to mandate self-archiving, rather than suggest or ignore it. Cutting straight to their intended impact, the authors state: “We hope that this demonstration that the OA Impact Advantage is real and causal will provide further incentive and impetus for the adoption of OA mandates worldwide in order to ensure that research can at last achieve its full impact potential, no longer constrained by today’s needless limit on its accessibility” (n.p.). The more studies undertaken on the various elements and modes of OA, the closer I believe we will come to such worldwide OA mandates.
Gargouri, Yassine, Chawki Hajjem, Vincente Larivière, Yves Gringas, Les Carr, Tim Brody, and Stevan Harnad. 2010. “Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research.” PLoS ONE 5 (10): n.p.