Skip to main content

An altmetric attention advantage for open access books in the humanities and social sciences

Abstract

The last decade has seen two significant phenomena emerge in research communication: the rise of open access (OA) publishing, and the easy availability of evidence of online sharing in the form of altmetrics. There has been limited examination of the effect of OA on online sharing for journal articles, and little for books. This paper examines the altmetrics of a set of 32,222 books (of which 5% are OA) and a set of 220,527 chapters (of which 7% are OA) indexed by the scholarly database Dimensions in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Both OA books and chapters have significantly higher use on social networks, higher coverage in the mass media and blogs, and evidence of higher rates of social impact in policy documents. OA chapters have higher rates of coverage on Wikipedia than their non-OA equivalents, and are more likely to be shared on Mendeley. Even within the Humanities and Social Sciences, disciplinary differences in altmetric activity are evident. The effect is confirmed for chapters, although sampling issues prevent the strong conclusion that OA facilitates extra attention at the whole book level, the apparent OA altmetrics advantage suggests that the move towards OA is increasing social sharing and broader impact.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Sources: Altmetric and Mendeley

Fig. 4

Data availability

Author is employed by Digital Science, who own Altmetric.com and Dimensions. Data is available on Figshare, https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11527962.

Notes

  1. 1.

    https://app.dimensions.ai/discover/publication?or_facet_publication_type=monograph&or_facet_publication_type=book&or_facet_year=2013&or_facet_open_access_status_free=oa_all Retrieved, December 19, 2019.

  2. 2.

    The Fields of Research system was developed in Australia and New Zealand and provides 22 major and 157 sub-divisions to enable the classification of a broad range of research output. https://dimensions.freshdesk.com/support/solutions/articles/23000018820-what-are-fields-of-research-and-other-classification-systems-and-how-are-they-createdhttps://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/1297.0Main+Features12008.

  3. 3.

    https://unpaywall.org/.

  4. 4.

    ‘Hybrid’ books, i.e. Gold books in otherwise non-OA book series were treated as Gold. Further information on the integration of Unpaywall data into Dimensions may be found here: https://dimensions.freshdesk.com/support/solutions/articles/23000018863-where-does-the-definition-of-open-access-come-from-in-dimensions-what-does-it-include-.

  5. 5.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:OABOT.

References

  1. Adie, E. (2014). Attention!A study of open access vs non-open access articles. 10.6084/M9.FIGSHARE.1213690.V1.

  2. Almind, T. C., & Ingwersen, P. (1997). Informetric analyses on the world wide web: Methodological approaches to ‘webometrics’. Journal of Documentation, 53(4), 404–426. https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000007205.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Altmetric. (2018). Patent data in altmetric highlights the commercialization of research–Altmetric. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.altmetric.com/press/press-releases/patent-data-in-altmetric-highlights-the-commercialization-of-research/.

  4. Bar-Ilan, J. (2000). The web as an information source on informetrics? A content analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 51(5), 432–443. https://doi.org/10.1002/(sici)1097-4571(2000)51:5<432:aid-asi4>3.0.co;2-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Björk, B.-C., Welling, P., Laakso, M., Majlender, P., Hedlund, T., & Guðnason, G. (2010). Open access to the scientific journal literature: Situation 2009. PLoS ONE, 5(6), e11273. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0011273.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bode, C., Herzog, C., Hook, D., & McGrath, R. (2019). A guide to the dimensions data approach.. https://doi.org/10.6084/M9.FIGSHARE.5783094.V7.

  7. Bornmann, L. (2013). What is societal impact of research and how can it be assessed? A literature survey. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 64(2), 217–233. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.22803.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bornmann, L. (2014). Validity of altmetrics data for measuring societal impact: A study using data from altmetric and F1000Prime. Journal of Informetrics, 8(4), 935–950. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2014.09.007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Britt Holbrook, J., & Frodeman, R. (2011). Peer review and the ex ante assessment of societal impacts. Research Evaluation, 20(3), 239–246. https://doi.org/10.3152/095820211X12941371876788.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Calver, M. C., & Bradley, J. S. (2009). Patterns of citations of open access and non-open access conservation biology journal papers and book chapters. Conservation Biology, 24(3), 872–880. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01509.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Canadian institutes of health research. (2006). Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications-CIHR. Retrieved January 17, 2020 from https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/32005.html.

  12. Cheshire, J. (2014). Open access monographs: A humanities research perspective. Serials, 27(s1), 17–20. https://doi.org/10.1629/2048-7754.121.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Chi, P. S. (2016). Differing disciplinary citation concentration patterns of book and journal literature? Journal of Informetrics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2016.05.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Clarivate. (2020). Book citation index clarivate analytics. Retrieved January 17, 2020 from https://wokinfo.com/products_tools/multidisciplinary/bookcitationindex/.

  15. Coalition S. (2018). “Plan S” and “cOAlition S”–accelerating the transition to full and immediate open access to scientific publications. Retrieved January 17, 2020 from https://www.coalition-s.org/.

  16. Costas, R., Zahedi, Z., & Wouters, P. (2014). Do “altmetrics” correlate with citations? extensive comparison of altmetric indicators with citations from a multidisciplinary perspective. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 66(10), n/a-n/a. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.23309

  17. Craig, I., Plume, A., McVeigh, M., Pringle, J., & Amin, M. (2007). Do open access articles have greater citation impact? A critical review of the literature. Journal of Informetrics, 1(3), 239–248. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2007.04.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Didegah, F., Ghaseminik, Z., & Alperin, J. P. (2018). Using a diabetes discussion forum and Wikipedia to detect the alignment of public interests and the research literature Background Methodology. Principal findings Conclusions, Significance.

  19. Elsevier. (2020a). Books | elsevier scopus blog. Retrieved January 17, 2020 from https://blog.scopus.com/topics/books.

  20. Elsevier. (2020b). Open access books. Retrieved January 17, 2020 from https://www.elsevier.com/about/open-science/open-access/open-access-books.

  21. Emery, C., Lucraft, M., Morka, A., & Pyne, R. (2017). The OA effect: How does open access affect the usage of scholarly books? Springer Nature White Paper. https://www.springernature.com/gp/open-research/journals-books/books/the-oa-effect.

  22. European Commission. (2008). Open access to scientific information|Digital Single Market. Retrieved January 17, 2020 from https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/open-access.

  23. Eysenbach, G. (2011). Can tweets predict citations? Metrics of social impact based on Twitter and correlation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. Journal of Medical Internet Research. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.2012.

  24. Frantsvåg, J. E., & Strømme, T. E. (2019). Few open access journals are compliant with plan S. Publications, 7(2), 26. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7020026.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Grimme, S., Taylor, M., Elliott, M. A., Holland, C., Potter, P., & Watkinson, C. (2019). The State of Open Monographs.. https://doi.org/10.6084/M9.FIGSHARE.8197625.V4.

  26. Halevi, G., Nicolas, B., & Bar-Ilan, J. (2016). The complexity of measuring the impact of books. Publishing Research Quarterly, 32(3), 187–200. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12109-016-9464-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hammarfelt, B. (2014). Using altmetrics for assessing research impact in the humanities. Scientometrics, 101(2), 1419–1430. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-014-1261-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hawkins, D. T. (2016). Altmetrics and books: Bookmetrix and other implementations. Against the Grain, 28(3) https://doi.org/10.7771/2380-176x.7364.

  29. Heilman, J. M., Kemmann, E., Bonert, M., Chatterjee, A., Ragar, B., Beards, G. M., et al. (2011). Wikipedia: A key tool for global public health promotion. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 13(1), e14. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.1589.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Herzog, C., Sorensen, A., & Taylor, M. (2016) Forward-looking analysis based on grants data and machine learning based research classifications as an analytical tool. In OECD STI conference https://www.oecd.org/sti/093-OECDForward-lookinganalysisbasedongrantsdataandmachinelearningbasedresearchclassificationsasananalyticaltool (1).pdf.

  31. Holmberg, K., Bowman, S., Bowman, T., Didegah, F., & Kortelainen, T. (2019). What is societal impact and where do altmetrics fit into the equation?. Journal of Altmetrics, 2(1) https://doi.org/10.29024/joa.21

  32. Holmberg, K., Hedman, J., Bowman, T. D., Didegah, F., & Laakso, M. (2020). Do articles in open access journals have more frequent altmetric activity than articles in subscription-based journals? An investigation of the research output of Finnish universities. Scientometrics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-019-03301-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Holmberg, K., & Vainio, J. (2018). Why do some research articles receive more online attention and higher altmetrics? Reasons for online success according to the authors. Scientometrics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-018-2710-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Hook, D. W., Porter, S. J., & Herzog, C. (2018). Dimensions: Building context for search and evaluation. Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics, 3, 23–30. https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2018.00023.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Kousha, K., & Thelwall, M. (2015). Web indicators for research evaluation. Part 3: Books and non standard outputs. El Profesional de La Información, 24(6), 724 https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2015.nov.04

  36. McLeish, B. (Altmetric). (2016, September). Altmetric and Policy: Discovering how your research impacted real-world practises. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from Altmetric.com website: https://www.altmetric.com/blog/altmetric-and-policy-discovering-how-your-research-impacted-real-world-practises/.

  37. 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(13), 2047–2054. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.20663.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Mohammadi, E., Thelwall, M., Haustein, S., & Larivière, V. (2015). Who reads research articles? An altmetrics analysis of Mendeley user categories. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.23286.

  39. Mohammadi, E., Thelwall, M., Kwasny, M., & Holmes, K. L. (2018). Academic information on twitter: A user survey. PLoS ONE, 13(5), e0197265. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0197265.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Moore, L., Taylor, M., & Watkinson, C. (2020). Academic books and open access. figshare. Media. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.12859949.v3.

  41. National Institutes of Health. (2009). NIH public access policy details | publicaccess.nih.gov. Retrieved January 17, 2020 from https://publicaccess.nih.gov/policy.htm.

  42. O’Leary, B., & Hawkins, K. (2019). Exploring Open Access Ebook Usage.

  43. OAPEN. (2020). List of compliant book publishers | OAPEN. Retrieved January 17, 2020 from https://oapen.org/content/deposit-publishers-list-compliant-book-publishers.

  44. Ottaviani, J. (2016). The post-embargo open access citation advantage: It exists (probably), it’s modest (usually), and the rich get richer (of course). PLoS ONE, 11(8), e0159614. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159614.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Pinter, F., & Thatcher, S. (2012). Efficient and effective funding of open access “books.” In R. Kubilius (Ed.) Anything goes, pp. 11–11. https://doi.org/10.5703/1288284314815.

  46. Piwowar, H., Priem, J., Larivière, V., Alperin, J. P., Matthias, L., Norlander, B., et al. (2018). The state of OA: A large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of open access articles. PeerJ. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4375.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Priem, J., Taraborelli, D., Groth, P., & Neylon, C. (2010). Alt-metrics: a manifesto. Retrieved from October website: https://altmetrics.org/manifesto/.

  48. Pulido, C. M., Redondo-Sama, G., Sordé-Martí, T., & Flecha, R. (2018). Social impact in social media: A new method to evaluate the social impact of research. PLoS ONE, 13(8), e0203117. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Schiltz, M. (2018). Science without publication paywalls: cOAlition S for the realisation of full and immediate open access. Frontiers in Neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2018.00656.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Science Europe. (2019). Briefing paper on open access to academic books - science Europe. Retrieved from https://www.scienceeurope.org/our-resources/briefing-paper-on-open-access-to-academic-books/

  51. Snijder, R. (2016). Revisiting an open access monograph experiment: Measuring citations and tweets 5 years later. Scientometrics, 109(3), 1855–1875. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-016-2160-6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Suber, P. (2012). Open access. Retrieved from https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/open-access.

  53. Sugimoto, C. R., & Larivière, V. (2017). Altmetrics: Broadening impact or amplifying voices? ACS Central Science, 3(7), 674–676. https://doi.org/10.1021/acscentsci.7b00249.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Sugimoto, C. R., Work, S., Larivière, V., & Haustein, S. (2017). Scholarly use of social media and altmetrics: A review of the literature. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 68(9), 2027–2062. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.23833.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Taylor, M. (2015). Engineers Don’t Blog and Other Stories (why Scopus uses subject area benchmarking). https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1568135.

  56. Taylor, M. (2020). Altmetrics and Open Access Books and Chapters.. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11527962.

  57. Teplitskiy, M., Lu, G., & Duede, E. (2017). Amplifying the impact of open access: Wikipedia and the diffusion of science. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 68(9), 2116–2127. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.23687.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Thelwall, M. (2000). Web impact factors and search engine coverage. Journal of Documentation, 56(2), 185–189. https://doi.org/10.1108/00220410010803801.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Thelwall, M. (2017). Three practical field normalised alternative indicator formulae for research evaluation. Journal of Informetrics, 11(1), 128–151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2016.12.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Thelwall, M., & Fairclough, R. (2015). Geometric journal impact factors correcting for individual highly cited articles. Journal of Informetrics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2015.02.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Thelwall, M., Haustein, S., Larivière, V., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2013). Do altmetrics work? Twitter and ten other social web services. PLoS ONE, 8(5), e64841. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0064841.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Torres-Salinas, D., Gorraiz, J., & Robinson-Garcia, N. (2018). The insoluble problems of books: what does Altmetric.com have to offer? Aslib Journal of Information Management, 70(6), 691–707. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-06-2018-0152

  63. Torres-Salinas, D., Robinson-Garcia, N., & Gorraiz, J. (2017). Filling the citation gap: Measuring the multidimensional impact of the academic book at institutional level with PlumX. Scientometrics, 113(3), 1371–1384. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-017-2539-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Watkinson, C., Welzenbach, R., Hellman, E., Gatti, R., & Sonnenberg, K. (2017). Mapping the free ebook supply chain: Final report to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. https://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/137638.

  65. Wennström, S., Schubert, G., Stone, G., & Sondervan, J. (2019). The significant difference in impact: An exploratory study about the meaning and value of metrics for open access monographs.

  66. Wiley. (2020). Self-archiving|Wiley. Retrieved January 17, 2020 from https://authorservices.wiley.com/author-resources/Journal-Authors/licensing/self-archiving.html.

  67. Wilsdon, J., Bar-Ilan, J., Frodeman, R., Lex, E., Peters, I., & Wouters, P. (2017). Next-generation metrics: Responsible metrics and evaluation for open science. Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (European Commission). https://doi.org/10.2777/337729.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Williams, K. (2018). Three strategies for attaining legitimacy in policy knowledge: Coherence in identity, process and outcome. Public Administration, 96(1), 53–69. https://doi.org/10.1111/padm.12385.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Thanks are due to Professor Michael Thelwall for his tireless support and invaluable guidance; to Kathy Christian and Stacy Konkiel at Digital Science for facilitating this research, and to the reviewers for their helpful suggestions. Data was accessed from Dimensions (http://www.dimensions.ai); Altmetric.com (http://www.altmetric.com); Crossref (http://http://www.crossref.org) and Mendeley (http://www.mendeley.com).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael Taylor.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Taylor, M. An altmetric attention advantage for open access books in the humanities and social sciences. Scientometrics 125, 2523–2543 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-020-03735-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Open access
  • Altmetrics
  • Scientometrics
  • Monographs
  • Scholarly books
  • Social impact