Publishing Open Access can significantly increase the visibilily of research in social media. Photo: Pixabay.
In September 2018, Plan S was launched, an initiative that promotes Open Access publication (OA) of scientific articles. The main principle is that scientific publications based on publicly funded research must be openly available. In Sweden, Formas, Vinnova and Forte are members of the coalition behind Plan S.
“In our study, we wanted to investigate whether, and to what extent, OA publishing affects social media visibility of an article”, says Tahereh Dehdarirad, bibliometric analyst and researcher at the Department of Communication and Learning in Science.
Examined more than 83.000 articles
Together with her co-author, she examined more than 83.000 articles published in the research fields of Life Sciences and Biomedicine throughout the years of 2012-2016.
“Of the scientific articles in the study that had been OA-published, the proportion mentioned on social media platforms was 57 percent. Of the articles that were not OA-published, the corresponding figure was 36 percent”, says Tahereh Dehdarirad. “The results of our research show that the articles that have been OA-published in some form are more likely to be mentioned and receive more mentions on social media than those that have not been OA-published.”
The media examined were Twitter, Facebook, blogs and news platforms, and there were big differences between them. The highest association between OA status and the estimated number of received mentions was for Twitter, with a likelihood of 92.7% increase in the average number of tweets. The lowest association was for Facebook, with a likelihood of 25.7% increase in the average of Facebook posts.
“That Twitter in particular has such high numbers might be becauseit is a real-time microblog, where a scientific article can be tweeted out just hours after publication”, says Tahereh Dehdarirad.
Different types of OA could affect the visibility
There are different types of OA publishing, and the study also examined how the different types of OA could affect the visibility of an article on social media. In the study, "Gold Open Access" type was compared to other types of OA together.
Gold Open Access means that the scientific article is published in a journal that does not charge subscription fees to the reader. Instead, the author pays a publication fee to cover the journal's administrative costs. Another form of OA is Green Open Access, which means that a preprint version of the article is published parallelly in a university repository. Parallel publishing can have the advantage that the article's visibility to increase.
Other types of OA are Hybrid and Bronze. In the hybrid OA model, publishers publish OA articles in closed-access scholarly journals, after authors have paid article processing charge. Bronze publications are those articles made available freely to read on the publisher’s website, without an explicit Open license
“In our study, we found that although Gold OA was the most common type of OA publishing among the articles we examined, the articles published as Gold OA were only associated with a higher average number of tweets and a higher probability that the article be mentioned in tweets and blogs, compared to other OA types together (Green, Bronze and Hybrid)”, says Tahereh Dehdarirad. “Although the purpose of Plan S is to increase the availability and, by extension, the visibility of scientific articles, it does not seem to have been fully achieved in the research areas of Life Sciences and Biomedicine.”
Bibliometric Analyst and Researcher