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Open access publication leads to more citations

April 14, 2011

Open access legal scholarship is 50% more likely to be cited than material published in proprietary journals

This paper provides empiric evidence suggesting open access publication of research leads to wider dissemination of information. I would very much like to see this study conducted using medical research.

An interesting aspect of medical research is the existence of evidence within specialty-specific silos. Each specialty tends to publish research in its own leading journal (unless their research happens to have such broad implications that JAMA or NEJM would publish it, but that is by far the minority). This system, although efficient at disseminating information to the most relevant audience, precludes cross-discipline integration of data.

I have personally come up against this in my own work. In writing about antibiotic usage, I came across papers in subspecialty journals (after all, almost all types of doctors prescribe antibiotics) that I couldn’t use because I couldn’t access the actual text.

This system especially hurts niche areas of research and prevents greater collaboration among researchers from different disciplines, ultimately producing inefficiencies in underfunded areas where efficiency is most needed. No scenario exists where open access publication of medical research would hurt the research enterprise. Medical societies need to demand greater access to their publications and force their publishers to develop more efficient delivery systems to reduce the costs involved in making greater access a reality (or cut out the publishers all together).


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