How Many More Cites is a $3,000 Open Access Fee Buying You? Empirical Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Authors :  Frank Mueller-Langer, Richard Watt

This paper analyzes the effect of open access (OA) status of published journal articles on peer recognition, as measured by the number of citations. Using cross-sectional and panel data from interdisciplinary mathematics and economics journals, we perform negative binomial, Poisson and linear regressions together with generalized method of moments/instrumental variable methods regressions.

We benefit from a natural experiment via hybrid OA pilot agreements. Under these agreements, OA status is exogenously assigned to all articles of authors affiliated with hybrid OA pilot institutions.

Our cross-sectional analysis of the full sample suggests that there is no citation benefit associated with hybrid OA. In contrast, for the subpopulation of journal articles for which neither OA pre-prints nor OA post-prints are available, we find positive hybrid OA effects for the full sample and each discipline separately.

We address the issue of selection bias by exploiting a panel of journal articles for which OA pre-prints are available. Citations to pre-prints allow us to identify the intrinsic quality of articles prior to publication in a journal.

The results from the panel analysis provide additional empirical evidence for a negligible hybrid OA citation effect.


Does Online Access Promote Research in Developing Countries? Empirical Evidence from Article-Level Data

Authors : Frank Mueller-Langer, Marc Scheufen, Patrick Waelbroeck

Universities in developing countries have rarely been able to subscribe to academic journals in the past. The “Online Access to Research in the Environment” initiative (OARE) provides institutions in developing countries with free online access to more than 5,700 environmental science journals.

Here we analyze the effect of OARE registration on scientific output by research institutions in five developing countries. We apply a difference-in-difference estimation method using panel data for 18,955 journal articles from 798 research institutions.

We find that online access via OARE increases publication output by at least 43% while lower-ranked institutions located in remote areas benefit less. These results are robust when we apply instrumental variables to account for the information diffusion process and a Bayesian estimation method to control for self-selection into the initiative.