December 03, 2009

Survey on Open Access and features of a repository

Writing about web page

This survey asks about how many scientific publications a month you read and how many of them were open access. I had to confess that I had no idea about the open access status of the articles I read!

I don't read all that many articles which I would class as scientific. Some are articles in Southampton's repository, so I know that they're open access! But I do also read less scientific stuff, like in the THE which I know is subscription based. Occasionally I might find something on Business Source Premier or Science Direct and I know that those articles are not open access. But generally, I don't keep track of such things and I guess that if I don't, most researchers won't either. As long as there is access, that is all any of us want to know!

It does happen, about two or three times a year, that I can't read a journal article that I am interested in. I'm at a well resourced institution and I read relatively few scholarly articles (compared to a researcher), so I wonder how often researchers do come across articles that they can't read.

Other questions in the survey are about the way we like to discover content and how we might like to link between that content and other articles, so they are functions that repositories might offer. The more sophisticated the functions are, the more "stuff" I will come across and the more sophisticated my information navigation skills need to be, and even if some of those functions are designed to help me sort the content in quality order, would I really trust the mechanisms on offer? I much prefer to find stuff through my networks of people who I know and trust, than by polls/reviews by strangers or metrics measured by computer software.

I answered the questions from my personal perspective, rather than what I thought other readers might like to use. I'm not a typical reader of research articles, so I'm not sure how helpful my answers will have been.

I also think that someone completing the survey who is a typical reader might find some conflict between their roles as reader and as a writer,  because most scientists will be both. As a reader, you might not want to know how many other visits there have been to a paper, or other measures of how popular they were (like me, preferring to rely on existing community sources), but as an author, that could be very useful information. Will all respondents think about the questions from both points of view? We know that relatively few are depositing!

I also said that it would be very useful to have an indication of the overall usage of a repository. But then, I would say that, wouldn't I?!

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