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Citations as currency

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The economic issues around open access
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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[Q] How are we going to solve the economic issues that surround open access?

Well, that’s a problem that’s been around for a long time. I think I’ve said, I’ve talked about that before that it was a problem that basically came up when JD Bernal proposed the central repository idea for, you know, reprints. The traditionalists will be opposed to it. Probably some kind of hybrid will eventually evolve, but I see now that Sigma Xi just put out an announcement that they’re, about the idea of a, somebody, the current president, or somebody, wrote to me as a member of Sigma Xi – membership at large – I’m not a member of a Chapter because I didn’t get elected to Sigma Xi as part of a Chapter when I was at school or anything like that. I just, somehow I became a lifetime member of Sigma Xi by just joining as a lifetime member. And now they want to talk about a Sigma Xi journal of multi-disciplinary research, which is a kind of, it would be their brand of, Nature or Science, you know. They all along, missed the boat on things they could have done with their membership; they were relying on the American Scientist – it’s a nice little magazine, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t evoke peer view oohs and aahs, if I can put it that way. Whereas getting your stuff in Science and Nature, it does. Now they want to do this multi-disciplinary journal, and whether they succeed with it or not, I don’t know. But it’s, it’s not necessarily an open access one. Basically, the idea is to have things available free of charge to the public. That’s what they mean by really open access. It’s that people can get at it free. Whether people can get at things free or not, it’s going to happen in the next 10 or 20 years, I don’t know. I cannot easily see the publishing industry ceding multi-billion dollars in profits that they’re making out of, so called, value added, that they do. And open access means you replace that with what, volunteer work? There’s a new word they have, you know, this term they use for things like Wikipedia – there’s a... they call that... there’s a new term for that... it’s called, some kind of authorship, community authorship.

[Q] Collaborative?

Collaborative, or there’s another word. For work like, Wikipedia, I think that they, the arguments for and against it, we talked about that, a thing like Wikipedia and so on. It’s not properly authenticated; so unless you get things that are authenticated, they’re not going to be accepted, and you won’t get them authenticated unless they get people paid for doing the work that’s required. You can’t just get it out of volunteers. I don’t know. It depends. Within the professional society, you get an awful lot done by volunteers, if you think about it.

[Q] They’re going to list the author names, aren’t they?

Are they going to what?

[Q] The authors’ names... that was one of the proposals...

In Wikipedia? Well, yeah, well, I thought in the beginning they were going, doing that, but I could be wrong. I don’t mind having my name put on something if I’ve written it, or proved it, or whatever. But if you get a collaborative authorship - that’s the word – collaborative authorship; it’s when you do an article where everybody approves it one way or another.

Eugene Garfield (1925-2017) was an American scientist and publisher. In 1960 Garfield set up the Institute for Scientific Information which produced, among many other things, the Science Citation Index and fulfilled his dream of a multidisciplinary citation index. The impact of this is incalculable: without Garfield’s pioneering work, the field of scientometrics would have a very different landscape, and the study of scholarly communication would be considerably poorer.

Listeners: Henry Small

Henry Small is currently serving part-time as a research scientist at Thomson Reuters. He was formerly the director of research services and chief scientist. He received a joint PhD in chemistry and the history of science from the University of Wisconsin. He began his career as a historian of science at the American Institute of Physics' Center for History and Philosophy of Physics where he served as interim director until joining ISI (now Thomson Reuters) in 1972. He has published over 100 papers and book chapters on topics in citation analysis and the mapping of science. Dr Small is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an Honorary Fellow of the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services, and past president of the International Society for Scientometrics and Infometrics. His current research interests include the use of co-citation contexts to understand the nature of inter-disciplinary versus intra-disciplinary science as revealed by science mapping.

Duration: 4 minutes, 37 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009