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Visibility and citation in Open Access: two cases

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Open Access increases visibility; this is a well-known fact resulting from the very essence of this publishing model. Because all OA articles and books are freely available in the internet and anyone may read them, their visibility is rather high. Yet, does the visibility results in higher level of citation, which is extremely important for researchers, who decide to publish in this model?

The topic of citation in Open Access has been discussed so many times already; and still, there are many concerns related to this subject. The question is: does publishing in Open Access help increase the level of citations comparing to traditional publishing model? The report by Alma Swan seems to confirm this relationship.

According to “The Open Access citation advantage. Studies and results to date” report, Open Access has positive impact on growth of citations. The author of this study has analyzed dozens of reports dealing with this issue. The main goal was to confirm or deny that the Open Access has a positive impact on level of citations. The results are quite useful.

The study confirms a positive Open Access citation advantage in 27 cases; only in four cases study wasn’t able to confirm any tangible benefits resulting from publishing the item open access.

It is worth to mention that the greatest increase in citations has been noted in Medicine (300% to 450%), Agricultural sciences (200% to 600%) and Physics/astronomy (170% to 580%).

The study analyses sources which already exist; it does not examine specific journal series or publishers. Despite this, this study presents a useful and interesting synthesis, which shows that Open Access helps increase the level of citations.

I would like to refer to another interesting piece of data from openscholarship.org. I found there a nice example of how Open Access increases visibility and citations. The site shows a case of a chemist researcher – Ray Frost, who has started publishing his articles in OA model a few years ago. It turns out, not only were his downloaded more often, but the level of citations has increased significantly. Before publishing in OA repository his articles were cited about 300 times per year, but after he decided to publish in OA, the level of citations rose – to 1200 in 2008.

These two examples show that Open Access may help to increase the citations. Undoubtedly, higher visibility of OA articles and books will have a positive effect on citation factor. If visibility subsequently translates into more citations is still an open question. In order to have a full picture, we need to consider many  other factors,  like the type of a discipline and the scope of the dissemination and penetration of Open Access within it.

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