Open access mythbusting: Testing two prevailing assumptions about the effects of open access adoption

Authors : Dan Pollock, Ann Michael

This article looks at whether there is evidence to support two prevailing assumptions about open access (OA). These assumptions are: (1) fully OA journals are inherently of poorer quality than journals supported by other business models and (2) the OA business model, that is, paying for publication, is more ‘competitive’ than the subscription journal access business model.

The assumptions have been discussed in contemporary industry venues, and we have encountered them in the course of their work advising scholarly communications organizations.

Our objective was to apply data analytics techniques to see if these assumptions bore scrutiny. By combining citation‐based impact scores with data from publishers’ price lists, we were able to look for relationships between business model, price, and ‘quality’ across several thousands of journals.

We found no evidence suggesting that OA journals suffer significant quality issues compared with non‐OA journals. Furthermore, authors do not appear to ‘shop around’ based on OA price.