How Many More Cites is a $3,000 Open Access Fee Buying You? Empirical Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Authors: Frank Müller-Langer (MPI for Innovation and Competition) and Richard Watt (University of Canterbury)

The paper analyzes the effect of open access (OA) on a published article’s recognition, as measured by the number of citations. We provide evidence from a natural experiment that OA status increases citations by 56% as compared to equivalent articles published in the same issues under a closed access status. Using cross-sectional data on interdisciplinary mathematics and economics journals, we find that this positive journal OA citation effect decreases in citations to OA pre-prints. We benefit from a natural experiment via hybrid OA pilot agreements. Under these agreements, journal OA status is exogenously assigned to all articles of authors affiliated with hybrid OA pilot institutions. Our analysis provides evidence that OA pre-prints are an imperfect substitute for journal OA. It suggests that OA pre-prints may help authors to increase peer recognition and journal editors to maximize journal impact factors. We also study discipline-specific citation effects.

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