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.