Article Access Stats from PubMed Central

January 2, 2008

The OpenAccess Nozdrul are celebrating the Open Access language in a recent Congressional appropriations bill (which Bush has signed into law) requiring NIH funded researchers to place their manuscripts into the PubMed Central (PMC) repository for all to see. The pertinent section of this new law:

SEC. 218. The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.

While some Open Access types express skepticism that the NIH OP mandate will do much, Bill has a great analysis that strikes a positive tone. Go read.

I had a prior note on the grant searching tool that was included on the PMC manuscript submission site and keep meaning to blog on how easy it is for the NIH PI to put up a manuscript. This is now a bit moot since there is a mandate now instead of a “recommendation”; I don’t need to encourage anyone.

Sidebar: In case you are unaware, an initial report on the compliance rate found about 4% of eligible manuscripts being deposited in PMC. The Nozdrul went nuts and apparently so did Congress. That report only covered 5/2/2005-12/31/2005 and was issued in January 2006 so I would bet the data up to the Dec 2007 law are a bit better. I got into this a bit on the discussion following this post on A Blog Around the Clock, many of the points I’d been meaning to blog on are in those comments.

Okay, second distraction from my main point (which I’ll get to!) is that if you are a NIH-funded (or HHMI or Welcome Trust funded) researcher you can safely ignore all the emails you’ve been receiving from Bentham (and no doubt others) about their stable of Open Access journals. Not to mention all the ranting and moralizing from the OA Nozdrul. Because you (NIH PI, anyway) have just become completely Open Access (not sure if the HHMI and WelcomeTrust are mandates or not yet) published. Feels good, doesn’t it?

The point I intend to make today, Dear Reader, is related to some prior thoughts of mine on the potential use of paper download statistics as an alternative to journal Impact Factor in assessing the “quality” of work with which one is not readily conversant. I noted there that Elsevier has “top 25 downloaded” stat for many of their journals and wished that actual download stats were available for all pubs, just as ISI tries to pull together all cites for a given article. Well, I note that the PMC manuscript list for my submitted articles has a link for download stats! PDF, Abstract and Whole-Text downloads from the PMC, of course, so this is likely only to be a small fraction. Likewise it will entirely miss the big bump expected right after publication because of the 6-12 mo embargo. But it is a start in the right direction.

For the data geeks I will note that I was already surprised to see some relative numbers for a few of my PMC manuscripts. (as in “whoa, this paper is being viewed more than that one?!!? go figure…”) I can see already it will be interesting to compare download stats with eventual citations within my own body of work!

4 Responses to “Article Access Stats from PubMed Central”

  1. physioprof Says:

    Umm, WTF is a “Nozdrul”?


  2. bill Says:

    The Nozdrul went nuts

    Raaaaar! Unleash the farting porkers! 🙂


  3. CC Says:

    Being in industry (although I still publish in Open Access journals as much as possible, for the simple reason that I want my papers to be read) I haven’t followed the implications of this bill — are there now journals in which NIH-funded researchers can’t publish? Which ones?


  4. drugmonkey Says:

    CC, you’ll want to poke around on bill’s Open Reading Frame (click on his name in a comment) for the skinny on Open Access and other implications. My rather uninformed take is that a huge number of journals have already accepted this reality, even before it became a “mandate”. Many journals already have a simple check-off thing on submission that will take care of the MS submission for the authors. Even ones that are being sort of stiff about the whole thing are creating “exceptions” for when one’s funding agency demands deposition of manuscripts. So I imagine that even if there are going to be some journals trying to hold a hard line, they will quickly abandon this practice. It is a DoneDeal if you ask me…


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