, Volume 84, Issue 2, pp 345–355 | Cite as

Citing and reading behaviours in high-energy physics

  • Anne Gentil-Beccot
  • Salvatore Mele
  • Travis C. Brooks


Contemporary scholarly discourse follows many alternative routes in addition to the three-century old tradition of publication in peer-reviewed journals. The field of High-Energy Physics (HEP) has explored alternative communication strategies for decades, initially via the mass mailing of paper copies of preliminary manuscripts, then via the inception of the first online repositories and digital libraries. This field is uniquely placed to answer recurrent questions raised by the current trends in scholarly communication: is there an advantage for scientists to make their work available through repositories, often in preliminary form? Is there an advantage to publishing in Open Access journals? Do scientists still read journals or do they use digital repositories? The analysis of citation data demonstrates that free and immediate online dissemination of preprints creates an immense citation advantage in HEP, whereas publication in Open Access journals presents no discernible advantage. In addition, the analysis of clickstreams in the leading digital library of the field shows that HEP scientists seldom read journals, preferring preprints instead.


Open-Access Citation High-energy physics Repository 



This work partly supported by Department of Energy contract DE-AC02-76SF00515. We are indebted to Carmen van Pamel and Nicholas Steketee, on an internship from the Collège du Léman, for their collaboration in the analysis of the data published in this article.


  1. Addis, L. (1962–1994). Brief and biased history of preprint and database activities at the SLAC Library. Last visited June 28, 2009, from
  2. ArXiv website. Last visited June 28, 2009, from
  3. Antelman, K. (2004). Do open-access articles have a greater research impact? College and Research Libraries, 65, 372–382.Google Scholar
  4. Aymar, R. (2009). Scholarly communication in High-Energy Physics: Past, present and future innovations. European Review, 17, 33–51. (CERN-OPEN-2008-015).Google Scholar
  5. Bianco, S., et al., Report of the SCOAP3 Working Party, ISBN 978-92-9083-292-8. Last visited June 28, 2009, from
  6. Davis, P. M. (2009). Author-choice open access publishing in the biological and medical literature: A citation analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60, 3–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davis, P. M., & Fromerth, M. J. (2007). Does the arXiv lead to higher citations and reduced publisher downloads for mathematics articles? Scientometrics, 71, 202–215. arXiv:cs/0603056.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davis, P. M., et al. (2008). Open access publishing, article downloads and citations: Randomised trial. BMJ, 337, a568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eysenbach, G. (2006). Citation advantage of Open Access articles. PLoS Biology, 4, 692–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Garfield, E. (1955). Citation indexes for science: A new dimension in documentation through association of ideas. Science, 122, 108–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gentil-Beccot, A., et al. (2009). Information resources in High-Energy Physics: Surveying the present landscape and charting the future course. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60, 150–160. arXiv:cs.DL/0804.2701v2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ginsparg, P. (1994). First steps towards electronic research communication. Computers in Physics, 8, 390.Google Scholar
  13. Goldschmidt-Clermont, L. (2002). Communication patterns in High-Energy Physics. High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine, 6. Last visited June 28, 2009, from
  14. Harnad, S., & Brody, T. (2004). Comparing the impact of Open Access (OA) vs. non-OA articles in the same journals. D-Lib Magazine, 10.Google Scholar
  15. Heuer, R. D., Holtkamp, A., & Mele, S. (2008). Innovation in scholarly communication: Vision and projects from High-Energy Physics. Information Services & Use, 28, 83–96. arXiv:0805.2739.Google Scholar
  16. Kreitz, P. A., & Brooks, T. C. (2003). Subject access through community partnerships: A case study. Science & Technology Libraries, 24, 153. arXiv:physics/0309027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kunz, P., et al., The Early World Wide Web at SLAC. Last visited June 28, 2009, from
  18. Kurtz, M., & Henneken, E. (2007). Open Access does not increase citations for research articles from The Astrophysical Journal. arXiv:0709.0896.Google Scholar
  19. SPIRES Website. Last visited June 28, 2009, from
  20. SISSA Open Access Proposal. Last visited June 28, 2009, from
  21. Lawrence, S. (2001). Free online availability substantially increases a paper’s impact. Nature, 411, 521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mele, S., et al. (2006). Quantitative analysis of the publishing landscape in High-Energy Physics. Journal of High Energy Physics, 12, S01. arXiv:cs.DL/0611130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Metcalfe, T. (2004). The citation impact of digital preprint archives for solar physics papers. Solar Physics, 239, 549–553. arXiv:astro-ph/0607079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Moed, H. F. (2007). The effect of open access on citation impact: An analysis of ArXiv’s condensed matter section. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58, 2047–2054. arXiv:cs/0611060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. The SCOAP3 project is described at Last visited June 28, 2009.

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Gentil-Beccot
    • 1
  • Salvatore Mele
    • 1
  • Travis C. Brooks
    • 2
  1. 1.CERN European Organization for Nuclear ResearchGeneva 23Switzerland
  2. 2.SLAC National Accelerator LaboratoryMenlo ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations