Impact of free access to the scientific literature
…for the researcher, the student and the lay man.
An excellent review in the latest JMLA:
The paper reviews recent studies that evaluate the impact of free access (open access) on the behavior of scientists as authors, readers, and citers in developed and developing nations. (…)
- Researchers report that their access to the scientific literature is generally good and improving (76% of researchers think that it is better now than 5 years ago)
- Publishers (Elsevier and Oxford UP) reveal an increase in the number of journals available at a typical university and an even larger increase in the article downloads
- For authors, the access status of a journal is not an important consideration when deciding where to publish (journal reputation is stronger)
- The high cost of Western scientific jounals poses a major barrier to researchers in developing nations
- There is clear evidence that free access increases the number of article downloads, although its impact on article citations is not clear
- Recent studies provide little evidence to support the idea that there is a crisis in access to the scholarly literature
- Author’s resistance to publication fees is a major barrier to greater participation in open access iniatives
- The empowerment of health care consumers through universal access to original research has ben cited as a key benefit of free access to the scientific literature
- overall, the published evidence does not indicate how (or whether) free access to the scientific literature influences consumers’ reading or behavior
- current research reveals no evidence of unmet demand for the primary medical or health sciences literature among the general public
- most research on access to the scientific literature assumes a traditional and hierarchical flow of information from the publisher to the eader, with the library often serving ans an intermediary betwwen the two. Very little has been done to investigate alternative routes of access to the scientific literature
Davis, Philip M. & Walters, William H. The impact of free access to the scientific literature: a review of recent research. J Med Libr Assoc 99(3):208-17 (2011).