Does it pay to pay? A comparison of the benefits of open-access publishing across various sub-fields in Biology | bioRxiv
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-12-19
Abstract: Authors are often faced with the decision of whether to maximize impact or minimize costs when publishing the results of their research. For example, to potentially improve impact via increased accessibility, many subscription-based journals now offer the option of paying a fee to publish open access (i.e., hybrid journals), but this solution excludes authors who lack the capacity to pay to make their research accessible. Here, we tested if paying to publish open access in a subscriptionbased journal benefited authors by conferring more citations relative to closed access articles. We identified 146,415 articles published in 152 hybrid journals in the field of biology from 2013-2018 to compare the number of citations between various types of open access and closed access articles. In a simple generalized linear model analysis of our full dataset, we found that publishing open access in hybrid journals that offer the option confers an average citation advantage to authors of 17.8 citations compared to closed access articles in similar journals. After taking into account the number of authors, journal impact, year of publication, and subject area, we still found that open access generated significantly more citations than closed access (p < 0.0001). However, results were complex, with exact differences in citation rates among access types impacted by these other variables. This citation advantage based on access type was even similar when comparing open and closed access articles published in the same issue of a journal (p < 0.0001). However, by examining articles where the authors paid an article processing charge, we found that cost itself was not predictive of citation rates (p = 0.14). Based on our findings of access type and other model parameters, we suggest that, in most cases, paying for access does confer a citation advantage. For authors with limited budgets, we recommend pursuing open access alternatives that do not require paying a fee as they still yielded more citations than closed access. For authors who are considering where to submit their next article, we offer additional suggestions on how to balance exposure via citations with publishing costs.