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Is Open Access

Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research

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      Articles whose authors have supplemented subscription-based access to the publisher's version by self-archiving their own final draft to make it accessible free for all on the web (“Open Access”, OA) are cited significantly more than articles in the same journal and year that have not been made OA. Some have suggested that this “OA Advantage” may not be causal but just a self-selection bias, because authors preferentially make higher-quality articles OA. To test this we compared self-selective self-archiving with mandatory self-archiving for a sample of 27,197 articles published 2002–2006 in 1,984 journals.

      Methdology/Principal Findings

      The OA Advantage proved just as high for both. Logistic regression analysis showed that the advantage is independent of other correlates of citations (article age; journal impact factor; number of co-authors, references or pages; field; article type; or country) and highest for the most highly cited articles. The OA Advantage is real, independent and causal, but skewed. Its size is indeed correlated with quality, just as citations themselves are (the top 20% of articles receive about 80% of all citations).


      The OA advantage is greater for the more citable articles, not because of a quality bias from authors self-selecting what to make OA, but because of a quality advantage, from users self-selecting what to use and cite, freed by OA from the constraints of selective accessibility to subscribers only. It is hoped that these findings will help motivate the adoption of OA self-archiving mandates by universities, research institutions and research funders.

      Related collections

      Most cited references 39

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          The skewness of science

           Per Seglen (1992)

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Institut des Sciences Cognitives, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
            [2 ]Observatoire des Sciences et des Technologies, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
            [3 ]Canada Research Chair in the History and Sociology of Science, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
            [4 ]Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Sciences, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
            [5 ]School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
            Northeastern University, United States of America
            Author notes

            Conceived and designed the experiments: LC SH. Performed the experiments: YG CH. Analyzed the data: YG CH TB. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: VL YG LC TB. Wrote the paper: SH.

            Role: Editor
            PLoS One
            PLoS ONE
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            18 October 2010
            : 5
            : 10
            Gargouri et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
            Pages: 12
            Research Article
            Science Policy
            Computer Science/General and Management Topics
            Computer Science/Information Technology
            Science Policy/Education



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