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[BOAI] Re: Bethesda statement on open access publishing

From: Jim Till <till AT>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 13:52:49 -0400 (EDT)

Threading: [BOAI] Re: Bethesda statement on open access publishing from harnad AT
      • This Message

Re the principle that it's the intrinsic merit of a research report, not
the title of the journal in which the report is published, that should be

This principle is most commendable, but, how to implement it? As someone
who, in the past, has chaired a (biomedical) promotions committee at my
university, I can attest to the weight that's given, by members of
promotions committees, to the journal title (in the reference to an
individual article) as a proxy for the quality of the individual article.
And, of course, impact factors for journals are often used as proxies for
journal quality.

For open-access journals, what proxies might replace these
well-established ones? Access statistics for articles in open-access
journals seem likely to turn out to be useful indicators of impact. For
example, some biomedical reports may be of great interest not only to
other researchers, but also to practitioners, patients, policy-makers,
advocates, people in the media and interested members of the public. (But,
will such an indicator of 'impact' also provide a valid and reliable
measure of 'intrinsic merit'? 'Intrinsic merit' is a multi-dimensional
concept. An article that only a very few non-specialists read, e.g.
about superstring theory, can have great impact on a field).

I think that the principles in the Bethesda statements are very valuable,
and shouldn't be modified. But, such statements will probably have greater
impact if more attention is paid not only to commendable principles, but
also to practical approaches to their implementation.

Jim Till
University of Toronto

PS: Authors of individual articles in BMC journals can obtain statistics
on accesses to abstracts, full text and PDFs via a password-protected
webpage: <>.

Jun 2003, Stevan Harnad wrote:

> On Fri, 6 Jun 2003, Peter Suber wrote:
> > ]
> > Bethesda statement on open access publishing


> > 3. We reaffirm the principle that only the intrinsic merit of the 
> > and not the title of the journal in which a candidate?s work is 
> > will be considered in appointments, promotions, merit awards or 
> This is all very worthy, but completely irrelevant. Research impact and
> rewards are not determined by whether or not a journal is open-access
> but by the journal's track record for quality. A track record requires
> time, and objective indicators of quality include rejection rates and
> citation counts.
> > 4. We will regard a record of open access publication as evidence of
> > service to the community, in evaluation of applications for faculty
> > appointments, promotions and grants.
> This seems to directly contradict 3, preceding it. According to 3 it is 
> work, not the journal-title that counts, in evaluation. Now whether or
> not the journal is open-access is to count, in evaluation.
> I suggest dropping both 3 and 4 and replacing them with the suggestion
> that a natural extension of the existing evaluative criteria
> (publish-or-perish and citation-impact) would be to encourage or
> mandate maximizing impact by maximizing access (through open access).
> The *two* ways to accomplish this are through publishing in open-access
> journals or self-archiving.

[remainder snipped]

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