Open-access books are downloaded, cited, and mentioned more than non-OA books*

Open-access books are downloaded, cited, and mentioned more than non-OA books*

* This UTS ePRESS blog post republishes the text of a CC BY licensed blog post by Carrie Calder who is Business Development and Policy Director, Open Research at Springer Nature. The original blog post of the same title appeared first in the LSE Impact Blog at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2017/11/22/open-access-books-are-downloaded-cited-and-mentioned-more-than-non-oa-books/

Open-access journal articles have been found, to some extent, to be downloaded and cited more than non-OA articles. But could the same be true for books? Carrie Calder reports on recent research into how open access affects the usage of scholarly books, including the findings that OA books are, on average, downloaded seven times more, cited 50% more, and mentioned online ten times more. A number of accompanying interviews reveal that authors are choosing open access routes to publish their books not only because of wider dissemination and easier access but also for ethical reasons.

Carrie Calder writes:

From crowdfunding to book publishing charges (BPCs), funders, institutions, and publishers continue to experiment with different open access models for books. Limited funding in disciplines which traditionally use monographs as a form of scholarly communication means that while open access in journal publishing has been around since 2000, it’s only in the last five years that we’ve seen real progress in introducing open access for books. Likewise, open-access journals in the humanities and social sciences have seen limited progress in comparison to their STEM counterparts.

So are there any real benefits for authors and funders who take the leap to publish via open access models? Increased downloads and, to some extent, citations have been shown for open-access journal articles – could the same be true for monographs?

Springer Nature has published more than 400 open access books on SpringerLink, from monographs to shorter or mid-form research such as Palgrave Pivot and SpringerBriefs. This provides us with a solid and growing dataset from which to investigate this issue, the so-called “OA effect”.

Our report, “The OA effect: how does open access affect the usage of scholarly books?”, published last week, shows that open-access books are:

  • Downloaded seven times more – on average, there are just under 30,000 chapter downloads per OA book within the first year of publication, which is seven times more than for the average non-OA book.
  • Cited 50% more – citations are on average 50% higher for OA books than for non-OA books, over a four-year period.
  • Mentioned online ten times more – OA books receive an average of ten times more online mentions than non-OA books, over a three-year period.

Of course, this also varies by discipline. For the humanities, social sciences and law, OA books are downloaded on average 6.7 times more than non-OA books. OA books in these disciplines receive fewer downloads than the average across all subject areas for OA books, but the same applies to non-OA books in these disciplines.

A sample of 216 Springer Nature OA books and 17,124 non-OA books was included in the download analysis (using SpringerLink data); and 184 OA books and 14,357 non-OA books in the citations and mentions analysis (using data from Bookmetrix). The report also contains qualitative analysis from authors and funders. We have released aggregated data for all analyses which is available in pdf and Excel formats from the report landing page (we are unable to release the full data for title-by-title analysis as the non-OA title data is commercially sensitive).

It’s worth noting that although the report finds a positive correlation between OA books and higher downloads, it acknowledges that causation cannot conclusively be proved. Open access is a relatively new business model for books, and while we have a good dataset, at this stage there is insufficient data to give a complete overview of an OA book’s life. We acknowledge that there are limitations to our initial study and these are discussed further in the report.

So why do authors choose to publish via open access? It seems that some authors are convinced of the OA effect, but many cite ethical concerns just as highly. Our authors cited “wider dissemination” as one of the most common reasons for choosing an OA model, along with “easy access to research” and “ethical motivations”.

Helen Louise Ackers, Chair in Global Social Justice at the University of Salford is one of the authors who is motivated by ethical reasons: “I work with issues that have to do with inequality, so for me publishing a book that wasn’t OA on the impact of international development would be quite unethical, because I know that people in Uganda would not be able to read the book. For me it was an absolutely critical component to the ethics of publishing”.

Likewise, a philosophy professor from Germany who wanted to remain anonymous told us: “my motivation was political; if it is publicly-funded research (which it is in my case) then I think the public has a right to access these results without any boundaries, not having to pay twice”.

Other motivations listed include subject matter (particularly for authors publishing research on international development in low-income countries); the possibility of purchasing a cheaper print edition of the book; expectations of increased citations and downloads; and a perception that OA publication would mean a faster publishing time.

But, while authors and funders expected OA books to have more visibility, and to reach a wider audience, they did not feel sufficiently informed about the actual impact of their work and felt they lacked tools to measure it (few had heard of Bookmetrix, for example).

For us as publishers, we see the rise of open research, across books and data as well as journal articles, as important to advancing discovery. But as books have a much longer lifespan than scientific articles, and because citations build up over time, it is not possible to say what the definitive trends are, such as when the overall citation and usage peaks occur during an OA book’s entire lifespan, until further research and analysis has been carried out. We encourage others to build upon the foundation of this report, especially by continuing to assess metrics and authors’ and funders’ perceptions of OA over a longer period.

The author would like to thank Ros Pyne, Mithu Lucraft, Agata Morka and Christina Emery for their authorship of the original report, “The OA effect: how does open access affect the usage of scholarly books?, available for download now.

This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Impact Blog, nor of the London School of Economics. Please review our comments policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.

About the author

Carrie Calder is Business Development and Policy Director, Open Research at Springer Nature.

For Carrie Calder’s original blog post, published by LSE Impact Blog, please go here.

UTS ePRESS

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Special Issue on Ethnocracy

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Dear Reader,

In order to highlight the excellent content provided by UTS ePRESS Journals and Books we would like to take this chance to draw your attention to the (Open Access) Special Issue on Ethnocracy recently published by Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: an Interdisciplinary Journal. Below is the abstract of the Editorial Welcome to that Special Issue by James Goodman and James Anderson. Below the abstract is the DOI link which will take you to the full Editorial Welcome in PDF or HTML.

In addition, we would also like to draw your attention to an article in The Conversation that references articles in the Special Issue which provide more context and discussion on this important topic.

Enjoy your reading!

Editorial Welcome: Special Issue on Ethnocracy

James Anderson

ABSTRACT

This Special Issue of Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Journal focuses on the domination of social and political relations by Ethnocracy – rule or would-be rule by an ethnic group or ethnos, as distinct from Democracy or rule by the demos of all the people. Ethnocracy encompasses state regimes and associated political movements and parties that discriminate systematically in favour of a particular ethnic group (or groups) and against others. When we proposed the Special Issue in late 2014 ethnocratic practices were as prevalent as they had ever been; and now two years later they appear to be on the increase with an ethno-populist upsurge and the election or threatened election of governments pursuing ethnocratic agendas. From India to the USA, from Russia to Hungary, leading politicians openly discriminate against ethnic ‘others’ to attract support from ‘their own’ ethnic groups; across the European Union and in other liberal democracies they increasingly scapegoat ‘immigrants’ to hide their own inadequacies and further their political objectives. Now, more than ever, it is critical that the dynamics of ethnocracy are more clearly understood. This Issue documents the logics of ethnocracy in a variety of different contexts, posing questions about how it develops and how it can be challenged.
 …
For the full text of this article go to DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/ccs.v8i3.5283

Should academics write for each other or for the public?

Johann. N. Neem’s article Coming Down From the Clouds, published in The Chronicle of Higher Education,  brilliantly explores both sides to the question: Should academics write for each other or for the public?

We increasingly live in an age of hard-fought-for and, at times, diminishing transparency: in government;  in media; and now, at times, in scholarly communication. When the tax-paying public becomes aware that their taxes are paying for the vast majority of research conducted within this country (and most others) many would like the opportunity to share in that knowledge creation and dissemination of which they are an integral part. To know, for example, that two black holes are colliding and that the impact of that collision can now be measured and conveyed to us in layers of profound meaning is, indeed, human progress. Neem writes:

We want physicists who write for each other. I appreciate that, at conferences and in academic papers, they have challenged each other’s conclusions and, in doing so, have pushed forward the boundaries of knowledge. Yet I am also grateful for my scientist friends who posted on Facebook links to videos and essays in which scientists explained, in terms that I could understand, why it was so significant that we had heard black holes colliding.

Has the time come for researchers to embrace lay summary dissemination services such as GrowKudos.com? Then, even if the scholarly work is impenetrable, at least the common Google researcher could find a trace of it and perhaps links to other works that may help explain it.

To explore more of Neem’s insightful piece please go here Coming Down From the Clouds: On Academic Writing

Reinventing UTS ePRESS

This set of CC BY slides shows the “Reinventing UTS ePRESS” presentation given by University of Technology Sydney (Library’s) Dr Belinda Tiffen and Scott Abbott at the Library Publishing Forum held in Portland, Oregon in March, 2015.

For accompanying speaker notes please contact UTS ePRESS at: utsepress@uts.edu.au