Cite Unseen: Theory and Evidence on the Effect of Open Access on Cites to Academic Articles Across the Quality Spectrum

51 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2020

See all articles by Mark J. McCabe

Mark J. McCabe

Boston University - Questrom School of Business; SKEMA Business School, Université Côte d’Azur (GREDEG), Sophia Antipolis, France

Christopher M. Snyder

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2020

Abstract

Our previous paper (McCabe and Snyder 2014) contained the provocative result that, despite a positive average effect, open access reduces cites to some articles, in particular those published in lower-tier journals. We propose a model in which open access leads more readers to acquire the full text, yielding more cites from some, but fewer cites from those who would have cited the article based on superficial knowledge but who refrain once they learn that the article is a bad match. We test the theory with data for over 200,000 science articles binned by cites received during a pre-study period. Consistent with the theory, the marginal effect of open access is negative for the least-cited articles, positive for the most cited, and generally monotonic for quality levels in between. Also consistent with the theory is a magnification of these effects for articles placed on PubMed Central, one of the broadest open-access platforms, and the differential pattern of results for cites from insiders versus outsiders to the article’s field.

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Suggested Citation

McCabe, Mark J. and Snyder, Christopher M., Cite Unseen: Theory and Evidence on the Effect of Open Access on Cites to Academic Articles Across the Quality Spectrum (November 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28128, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3735696

Mark J. McCabe (Contact Author)

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

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SKEMA Business School, Université Côte d’Azur (GREDEG), Sophia Antipolis, France ( email )

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SKEMA Business School, Economics Department
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France

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/markjmccabe1/home

Christopher M. Snyder

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

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Hanover, NH 03755
United States
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(603) 646-2122 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~csnyder/

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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