Archive for the ‘Cites & Insights’ Category

The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014: a brief note on numbers

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

oa14c300Here’s the tl;dr version: Go buy The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014, either the $60 paperback or the $55 site-licensed PDF ebook (the contents are identical other than the copyright page/ISBN). I try to be wholly transparent about my investigations, and I’m confident that TGOAL represents the most accurate available count for serious gold OA publishing (excluding non-DOAJ members, “hybrids” and other stuff). Oh, and if enough copies are sold, I’ll keep doing this research…which I don’t think anybody else is going to do and which, as far as I can tell, can’t really be automated.

Running the Numbers

Now that I’ve said that, I won’t repeat the sales pitch. You presumably already know that you can get a hefty sampling of the story in Cites & Insights 15:9–but the full story is much more complete and much more interesting.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten involved or failed to get involved in a number of discussions about numbers attached to OA.

On September 30, I posted “How many articles, how many journals?,” raising questions about statistics published in MDPI’s Sciforum asserting the number of OA journals and articles–numbers much lower than the ones I’ve derived by actual counting. I received email today regarding the issues I raised:

Thank you for passing this on. I think it’s quite difficult to pin down exactly how many papers are published, never mind adding in vagueries about the definition of ‘predatory’ or ‘questionable’ publishers. The data on Sciforum are taken from Crossref and, on, shows about 300,000 OA articles published in 2014. The difference may depend on correct deposition (including late or not at all), article types or publishers just not registered with Crossref. I think ball-park figures are about the closest we can get as things stand.

Well…yes and no. I think it’s highly likely that many smaller OA journals aren’t Crossref members or likely to become Crossref members: for little journals done out of a department’s back pocket, even $275/year plus $1/article is a not insignificant sum.

What bothers me here is not that the numbers are different, but that there seems to be no admission that a full manual survey is likely to produce more accurate numbers, not just a different “ball-park figure.” And that “pinning down” accurate numbers is aided by, you know, actually counting them. The Sciforum numbers are based on automated techniques: that’s presumably easy and fast, but that doesn’t make it likely to be right.

Then there’s the Shen/Björk article…which, as I might have expected, has been publicized all over the place, always with the twin effects of (a) making OA look bad and (b) providing further credibility to the one-man OA wrecking crew who shall go nameless here. The Retraction Watch article seems to be the only place there’s been much discussion of what may be wrong with the original article. Unfortunately, here is apparently the totality of what Björk chooses to say about mine and other criticisms:

“Our research has been carefully done using standard scientific techniques and has been peer reviewed by three substance editors and a statistical editor. We have no wish to engage in a possibly heated discussion within the OA community, particularly around the controversial subject of Beall’s list. Others are free to comment on our article and publish alternative results, we have explained our methods and reasoning quite carefully in the article itself and leave it there.”

Whew. No willingness to admit that their small sample could easily have resulted in estimates that are nearly three times too high. No willingness to admit that the author-nationality portion, based on fewer than 300 articles, is even more prone to sampling error. They used “standard scientific techniques” so the results must be accurate.

No, I’m not going around to all the places that have touted the Shen/Björk article to add comments. Not only is life too short, I don’t believe it will do much good.

The best I can do is transparent research with less statistical inference and more reliance on dealing with heterogeneity by full-scale testing, and hope that it will be useful. A hope that’s sometimes hard to keep going.

Meanwhile: I continue to believe that a whitelist approach–DOAJ‘s tougher standards–is far superior to a blacklist approach, especially given the historical record of blacklists.



Cites & Insights 15:10 (November 2015) available

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Cites & Insights 15:10 (November 2015) is now available for downloading at

This print-oriented two-column version is 38 pages long. If you plan to read the issue on a tablet or computer, you may prefer the 6″x9″ single column version, 74 pages long, which is available at

Unlike the book-excerpt October 2015 issue, there’s no advantage to the single-column version (other than its being single-column), and copyfitting has only been done on the two-column version. (As has been true for a couple of months, both versions do include links, bookmarks and visible bolding.)

This issue includes the following essays, stepping away from open access for a bit:

The Front: A Fair Use Trilogy   p. 1

A few notes about the rest of the issue–and a status report on The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014.

Policy: Google Books: The Neverending Story?  pp. 1-18

Three years of updates on the seemingly endless Google Books story, which has now become almost entirely about fair use.

Policy: Catching Up on Fair Use  pp. 18-24

A handful of items regarding fair use that don’t hinge on Google Books or HathiTrust.

Intersections: Tracking the Elephant: Notes on HathiTrust  pp. 24-38

Pretty much what the title says, and again the main thrust appears to be fair use. (The elephant? Read the essay, including a little bit of Unicode.)


pubs_since_1994.htm finally up

Monday, September 28th, 2015

For the thousands (well, hundreds (well, tens (well…anybody?))) of avid readers of Cites & Insights August-September 2015 who, wondering about the quotes in “A Few Words, Part 2,” clicked through to find the bibliography…

It’s (finally) there, such as it is:

My apologies for the slight delay in getting it ready. The fact that I’ve seen zero instances of anybody looking at the first part of the bibliography may have influenced the priority with which this part was prepared…

(But hey, there are lots of 404s on, as usual: I could convince myself that those were all folks looking for the second part of the bibliography. I could convince myself that I look like a slightly older George Clooney, too, but it would be equally absurd.)



The Gold OA Landscape and Cites & Insights 15:9 – Update 1

Friday, September 18th, 2015

The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 appeared September 10, 2015 in PDF ebook form and September 11, 2015 in paperback form. Cites & Insights 15:9 (October 2015), which is an excerpted version of the book, appeared September 12, 2015. (The link here is to the single-column version, for good reason.)

So it’s basically been a week since the most comprehensive study of serious Gold OA (as evidenced by listing in the Directory of Open Access Journals) was made available. I thought a status update might be in order–especially since the availability of anonymized data for this project, and continuation of this research for 2015 (done in 2016), depend so heavily on the takeup of this report.

The Issue

As of 5:09 a.m. this morning (September 18, 2011), Cites & Insights 15:9 has been downloaded 956 times; it may very well have reached the thousand mark by now. That’s a gratifying number: it means lots of people are interested. It’s also gratifying that people are apparently paying attention: more than 90% of those downloads are of the more-readable 6×9″ single-column version.

(“More readable” in this special case because tables that use all of a 6×9″ book text body are involved–although the single-column version is generally more readable if you’re reading online. Normally, I prefer and push the two-column print-oriented version, the one I actually try to make look good. This is by no means a normal issue.)

If one out of every ten people who download this issue find it worthwhile enough to contribute $10 to Cites & Insights (link on the home page), we’d already be two-thirds of the way to assuring full availability of the anonymized dataset and one-third of the way toward continuing this research next year. But that’s like saying “if all refereed articles were published in OA using the apparent efficiencies of SciELO, it would cost less than $250 million a year for the world’s entire output, saving close to $10 billion for other purposes”–it may be true, but it makes some wildly improbable assumptions.

The Book

As this is written (9:15 a.m. on September 18, 2015), people or institutions other than me have purchased two copies of the book–one each paperback and PDF. That’s a start–and about one-sixteenth of the “dataset availability” goal or one-26th of the “continued research” goal.

I’d love to announce more general availability of the paperback, but Lulu’s requirements are that I have to not only order but “approve” a copy of the book first. I haven’t received the book yet, so can’t do that yet…and it can be up to eight more weeks after that before the book shows up on Amazon or Ingram. So, well, it’s gonna be a while. (Meanwhile, to be sure, each copy purchased through non-Lulu sources would only count one-third as much for my goals.)

The Goals

Basically, both acknowledgment of the work (and the 956 downloads help a lot there!) and some modest revenue from book purchases, C&I contributions, or some direct form of funding.

I’ll probably do more posts, now and then, pointing out interesting things in the data. I’ll do more status updates when/if there are significant changes.

Cites & Insights 15:9 (October 2015) out

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

The October 2015 Cites & Insights (15:9) is now available for downloading at

The issue is 36 pages long–but you may find the 73-page single-column version at easier to read, and it’s slightly more complete. (I had to delete columns from some tables to get them to fit into the narrower column without reducing type to 6 or 7 points, which I regarded as unreadably small.)

The issue consists of one essay:

Intersections: The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014   pp. 1-36

This is an excerpted version of the book of the same name, including roughly half the text, none of the dozens of graphs, and about one-third of the overall content (at least by pagination).

It provides all the overall numbers for this first comprehensive study of serious gold OA publishing (where I define “serious” as “included in the Directory of Open Access Journals“), and a few examples of what’s in the subject coverage–but it omits most subject details and a number of secondary aspects of the overall coverage.

It should give you a good picture of where things stand with gold open access throughout the world, not just in English-speaking (or English-publishing) countries. While some of you (and your libraries) should and will find the book worth purchasing (I hope), this report should be enough for many of you.

The only added material is a brief introductory note with links to the book site.

August-September Cites & Insights (15:8) available

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

More than half a million articles appeared in Gold OA journals (in DOAJ) in 2014–in more than 9,700 such journals. (The 400,000 mark was actually reached in 2012.) That initial finding is at the heart of the lead essay in a unique issue of Cites & Insights, available in two different versions:

Cites & Insights 15:8 (August-September 2015), the “standard” version (two-column, print-oriented), is 26 pages long and available at

The two-column version, designed for online or tablet reading, is 51 pages and available at

What’s unique is that the two versions are textually different.

Both versions begin with:

The Front: About The [Nearly Complete] OA Landscape 2011-2014 pp. 1-4 (pp. 1-7 in one column version)

This essay expands on a July 26, 2015 post regarding the remainder of my full scan of DOAJ journals and what will happen with that scan–and the deadline to get an “active hyperlink” version of the final report.

The two-column version continues with:

Perspective: A Few Words, Part 2  pp. 4-26

The remainder of my little journey through publications past (omitting self published material including, ahem, Cites & Insights), covering 1995 to the present. I think it’s interesting and a little fun. You might also.

The single-column version continues with:

Perspective: Some Moldy Oldies from C&I  pp. 7-51

Excerpts from the very first issue of Cites & Insights and from three issues that have been downloaded less often than others.


Czechlists: A bit of humor and a non-update

Monday, July 6th, 2015

The humor:

I’m making great headway in looking at “the other 4,100+”–journals in DOAJ as of May 2015 that aren’t included in my interim full-2014 Gold OA report. (I’m almost halfway through, and now do anticipate finishing before mid-September; more on that later)

Chrome’s translation features (based on Google Translate) are critical to my ability to do this. Generally, it’s doing a fine job.

But then there was this–a screen capture from the translated version of an Open Journal Systems interface for a Persian journal:


I’m roughly 99.9% certain that Chrome provided an accurate word-for-word Persian-to-English translation.

The non-update:

If you’re waiting for the August 2015 issue of Cites & Insights, you’ll have a long wait–if there is a separate August issue at all, it will probably appear in late August; a combined August/September issue is more likely.

Meanwhile, I can suggest a couple of recent issues to keep you going…but first, a little background on first-month (or first 25-to-27-day) readership figures. Here’s what I see for this year so far:

  • January 2015 (“The Third Half” of the DOAJ study): 1,694 downloads in December 2014
  • February 2015 (Deathwatch 2015! and Copyright Extremism): 533 downloads in January 2015
  • March 2015 (more about OA journals, Ebooks & Pbooks): 1,025 downloads in February 2015
  • April 2015 (the economics of OA): 1,771 downloads in March 2015
  • May 2015 (FriendFeed and Twitter): 664 downloads in April 2015
  • June 2015 (Who Needs Open Access, Anyway?–and notes on counting articles): 1,044 downloads in May 2015
  • July 2015 (Thinking About Libraries and Access, also A Few Words): 365 downloads in June 2015

I was hoping to see a little discussion engendered by Thinking About Libraries and Access, maybe even a little controversy. I wasn’t expecting to see a huge drop in readership, at least not that much of a drop. I figure 500+ first-month readership is doing OK, 700+ doing well, 1,000+ doing great.

So I’ll suggest that you might want to read the current issue–the whole thing (I surely could use a little more support for the more complete 2014 DOAJ overview), but especially the central essay.

Otherwise…well, maybe the February issue. The May issue probably got the readership it deserves. (It’s up to 1,094 downloads as of June 30, and anything over 700 in the first year makes me pretty happy on that count. For that matter, the February issue’s up to 900 downloads.)

Meanwhile, back to the survey…


Cites & Insights 15:7 (July 2015) available

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Cites & Insights 15:7 (July 2015) is now available for downloading at

This odd summer issue is 20 pages long. If you’re planning to read it online or on an e-device, you may prefer the 37-page one-column 6×9″ edition, available at

(Thanks to a change in software support, both versions should show boldface, have working hyperlinks, and have bookmarks.)

The issue includes:

The Front: The Open Access Landscape: An Interim View   pp. 1-4

There’s a new ebook and book out, containing all of the Open Access Landscape subject chapters–but with more material as well. You can’t buy it as such, but a small donation to Cites & Insights will get you a link to the PDF and another link to pick up the 202-page (186+xvi) paperback for $7. You can donate at the Cites & Insights home page. (Also: Chapter 16 to show what’s included, and some notes about the PDF changes in this issue.)

Perspective: Thinking about Libraries and Access, Take 2    pp. 4-11

My current personal beliefs about the present and future of OA–including cases where I know what I believe and I hope I’m wrong. Also the first “Thinking about Libraries and Access” (from nine years ago) and some brief notes.

Perspective: A Few Words, Part 1   pp. 11-20

Twenty years ago (as of ALA Annual, that is), I was pleasantly surprised with an unexpected award. This “essay” consists of anywhere from a sentence to a paragraph of (nearly all) my books and articles leading up to that award–from 1976 through 1994 in pretty much chronological order. You may find it amusing. Or not.

Cites & Insights 15:6 (June 2015) available

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Cites & Insights 15:6 (June 2015) is now available for downloading at

The print-oriented two-column version is 24 pages long. For those reading online or on an e-device, or who wish to follow links in the issue, a 46-page single-column 6×9″ version is available at

The June 2015 issue includes:

The Front: Making It Easy, Making It Hard: A Personal Note on Counting Articles  pp. 1-4

This oddity offers some notes on OA publishers and journals that make it easier–or harder–than usual to find out how many articles appear in a journal over a given year, from the utter simplicity of MDPI, SciELO and j-stage to the utter…well, read the article.

Intersections: Who Needs Open Access, Anyway?  pp. 4-24

Noting and discussing a range of commentaries by people who are either “I’m all for OA, but…” (where the but is the most important word in that phrase) or discussing ways in which others attempt to undermine OA: clearing out two years of “oa-anti” tags.


Supporting OA research & Cites & Insights: another path

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

There’s still one day to go for responses to this post, but given the count of supportive comments so far (zero: while I appreciated the “only institutions care” truthtelling, it’s not precisely supportive), I suspect that there will not be an Indiegogo campaign.

Maybe that’s just as well.

This does not mean (a) that I’m giving up gold OA research entirely, or even (b) that once I finish the current cycle, that’s all there is. I find this stuff interesting–and readership for OA-related issues of C&I suggests that a lot of people find it at least somewhat worthwhile. And, honestly, I’m really interested in seeing what a full-scale revisit in early 2016 would show about OA in 2011-2015.

But I’m also aware that people (librarians and other people) tend to value less that which they do not pay for, and that it’s hard to justify doing a lot of work when there’s no clear sense that it’s reaching people or yielding positive value.

So I’m going to suggest another path for those who do want to support my research (and the continued health of Cites & Insights) but neither want to commit to (or even suggest the possibility of) buying a book or come up with a significant sum of money to help out C&I.

To wit, what public stations call a sustaining membership. As it happens, one person has already done that: signed up with PayPal to send me $2 a month–little enough to basically be invisible for the donor, but of some value to me.

Here’s what I suggest:

  • Visit Cites & Insights. You’ll find the PayPal link above the fold, fairly near to the top of the page.
  • Follow the PayPal link.
  • Set up an ongoing monthly payment. $2 is fine. $3 is even better. Big spenders might even go for $4, but I don’t want to push it.
  • Once it’s set up, you’ll get a thank you note from me–and ongoing gratitude.

If 12 more people did that, it would assure the ongoing direct costs of Cites & Insights–basically, hosting and domain registration (but not part of my pseudo-broadband).

If 50 people did that, it would pretty much cover the indirect costs (software, supplies, part of broadband) as well–and it would encourage me to keep doing related research such as OA.

If 100 people did that, it would be enough to encourage me a lot to keep on keeping on, including OA research.

And if 200 people did that–hey, I can dream–it would assure that I’d do the 2016 project and keep C&I healthy.

(Of course, modest institutional support or grant support would do equally well: for a few years C&I had a sponsor at an appropriate level, with its name on the front and back pages. With one exception, I’d be delighted to accept sponsorship from any appropriate body. No, the exception is definitely not OCLC.)

So that’s it: another way to support what I’m doing. You’ve already figured out, I’m guessing, that none of this is a matter of life, death, or being able to keep food on the table and property taxes paid. It’s a matter of explicit recognition of ongoing value, and maybe a little help for related bills.

And, since this post is about economics, maybe it’s fitting that tomorrow’s weekly installment in The Open Access Landscape is…economics.