Timed to coincide with Earth Week? Who knows? Regardless, the recent announcement from the American Geophysical Union is an important statement from that society (publishers of many prestigious and highly regarded scholarly journals in earth and space science research, notably the Journal of Geophysical Research family of journals).
AGU announced two major steps in making its published research more accessible to scientists and the public:
- Beginning 1 May, access to all AGU journal content and Eos from 1997 to content published 24 months ago will be made freely available. This change will apply to all articles and supplementary materials from journals that are not already open access, and it currently represents more than 80,000 articles and issues of Eos. Additional content will continue to become open every month, on a 24-month rolling cycle.
- In addition, AGU has joined an innovative initiative in the UK, Access to Research, that provides patrons of U.K. public libraries instant online access to journal content from 1997 to the present at the library.
AGU also publishes three fully open access journals – JAMES, Earth’s Future, and the recently announced Earth and Space Science, which will publish its first articles later this year. (Read the complete AGU press release here.)
In addition to furthering AGU’s mission “to advanc[e] the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs,” there is recent evidence that scholarly journals’ impact, as well as access, can increase (if modestly) through the removal of subscription paywalls, – particularly for highly ranked journals, in the upper tiers of their disciplines. The impact of open access on scholarly citations is a much studied, complex and controversial issue; this recent study (McCabe & Snyder, 2014) uses an econometric model that rigorously controls for variables in article quality, age, and secular trends in citations using journal panel data.
Abstract: An open-access journal allows free online access to its articles, obtaining revenue from fees charged to submitting authors. Using panel data on science journals, we are able to circumvent some problems plaguing previous studies of the impact of open access on citations. We find that moving from paid to open access increases cites by 8% on average in our sample, but the effect varies across the quality of content. Open access increases cites to the best content (top-ranked journals or articles in upper quintiles of citations within a volume) but reduces cites to lower-quality content. We construct a model to explain these findings in which being placed on a broad open-access platform can increase the competition among articles for readers attention. we can find structural parameters allowing the model to fit the quintile results quite closely.
Also of interest: