Evaluating research impact through open access to scholarly communication
Scientific research is a competitive business – in order to secure funding, promotion and tenure researchers must demonstrate their work has impact in their field. To maximise impact researchers undertake high priority research, aim to get results first, and publish in the highest impact journals. The Internet now presents a new opportunity to the scholarly author seeking higher impact: s/he can now make their work instantly accessible on the Web through author self-archiving. This growing body of open access literature (coupled with new publishing models that make journals available for-free to the reader) maximises research impact by maximising the number of people who can read it, and making it available sooner. Open access also provides a new opportunity for bibliometric research. This thesis describes the relatively recent phenomenon of open access to research literature, tools that were built to collect and analyse that literature, and the results of analyses of the effect of open access and its effect on author behaviour. It shows that articles self-archived by authors receive between 50-250% more citations, that rapid pre-printing on the Web has dramatically reduced the peak citation rate from over a year to virtually instant and how citation-impact – now widely used for evaluation – can be expanded to include a new web metric of download impact.