This mixed-methods study integrates bibliometric and altmetric investigation with a qualitative method in order to assess the prevalence and societal-impact of Open-Access (OA) publications, and to reveal the considerations behind researchers’ decision to publish articles in closed and open-access.
The bibliometric-altmetric study analyzed 584 OA and closed publications published between 2014 and 2019 by 40 Israeli researchers: 20 from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and 20 from SSH (Social Sciences and Humanities) discipline. We used a multistage cluster sampling method to select a representative sample for the STEM disciplines group (engineering, computer science, biology, mathematics, and physics), and for the SSH disciplines group (sociology, economics, psychology, political science, and history). Required data were extracted from Scopus and Unpaywall databases, and the PlumX-platform. Among the 40 researchers who were selected for the bibliometric-altmetric study, 20 researchers agreed to be interviewed for this study.
Comparing bibliometrics and altmetrics for the general publications did not reveal any significant differences between OA and closed publications. These were found only when comparing OA and closed publications across disciplines. STEM-researchers published 59 % of their publications in OA, compared to just 29 % among those in SSH, and they received significantly more bibliometric and altmetric citations from SSH OA publications and from their own closed-access publications. The altmetrics findings indicate that researchers are well acquainted and active in social media. However, according to the interviewees, there is no academic contribution for sharing research findings on social-media; it is viewed as a “public-service”. Researchers’ primary consideration for publishing in closed or OA was the journal impact-factor.
Our findings contribute to the increasing body of research that addresses OA citations and societal-impact advantages. The findings suggest the need to adopt an OA-policy after a thorough assessment of the consequences for SSH disciplines.