Open Online Book Experiment Yields Expected Results

By Phil Davis | November 1, 2013


report detailing an experiment in providing open online access to scholarly monographs was released last Tuesday in celebration of Open Access Week.  The results? Providing free access to online books had no effect on sales (positive or negative), nor did it have any effect on citations. Free access did increase online usage, however.

I wrote about this study almost three years ago to date as the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) announced their financial support of this study. At that time, I argued that the study was methodologically flawed, would yield null results on sales and lack generalizability.

Did we learn anything in the past three years? The following post is reposted from Oct 27, 2010.

[Correction: This post confuses the Dutch OAPEN-NL study with the British OAPEN-UK and the broader European OAPEN initiative. Details of the differences are described by Ronald Snijder in the Comments section below. The author (Phil Davis) regrets these errors.]

OAPEN — Open Access Book Experiment in Humanities, Social Sciences

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the United Kingdom has put out an invitation for publishers of monographs in the social sciences and humanities to participate in an open access experiment called OAPEN-UK.  As described:

The aim of OAPEN-UK is to experiment with scholarly monographs in the humanities and social sciences to find out if open access as a model is feasible, and what impacts open access scholarly monographs have on print and e-book sales, reach and readership.

The study comes with £250,000 (almost US $400,000) of support from JISC-collections to fund the experiment.

Like the open access experiment conducted on monographs published by Amsterdam University Press (AUP), books will be assigned randomly to either the experimental (open access) group or the control group.  To ensure equal allocation, each publisher is asked to submit pairs of titles that are similar to each other in many respects (age, subject, e-book availability).

Read full post here. (Originally posted October 28, 2013)