Open Access benefits researchers, institutions, nations and society as a whole. For researchers, it brings increased visibilty, usage and ensuing impact for their work. Institutions enjoy these benefits, too, aggregated from all their researchers. Nations benefit because Open Access increases the impact - and thus the return on investment - of the research in which they invest public money (see Houghton and Sheehan's study on the economic impact of enhanced access to research fndings: Houghton et al's Economic Implications of Alternative Scholarly Publishing Models: Exploring the Costs and Benefits). Society as a whole benefits because research is more efficient, more efficacious and hence brings better and faster outcomes for the use of humankind.
Repositories can provide usage data to show the number of times articles have been downloaded. The levels of this type of usage can be surprising. For example, in New Zealand, the University of Otago’s Business School set up an Open Access repository in November 2005: by February 2006, with just 220 articles in it at the time, it had received almost 20,000 ‘hits’ (downloads) (Stanger and McGregor, 2006). No doubt many of these are translating into citations over time.
A number of studies have been carried out on the increased citation impact that Open Access can bring (original studies: Kurtz, 2004; Brody & Harnad, 2004; Antelman, 2005; Hajjem, Harnad and Gingras, 2006: bibliography of studies on the Open Access citation advantage). A summary of all the studies on Open Access citation impact to date is here. Stevan Harnad’s groups in Southampton and Montreal continue to work on this and their early results are shown in the chart below, which depicts the increase in citations of Open Access articles over those for Closed Access articles in the same issue of the same journal.
This study is ongoing and new disciplines will be added to the list, but the striking finding is that across all disciplines there is an Open Access advantage for citations.
Swan, A. (2010) The Open Access citation advantage: Studies and results to date. Technical Report.
Case study: visibility and usage of an institutional Open Access repository