Peter Suber reports:
20:34 06/07/2007, Open Access NewsIain Hrynaszkiewicz, Open access article on consensus definition of acute renal failure has been accessed more than 100,000 times, BioMed Central blog, July 6, 2007. Hrynaszkiewicz is BMC’s in-house Editor of Critical Care. Excerpt:
The most highly accessed article on BioMed Central’s most viewed articles page recently surpassed 100,000 accesses.
Bellomo et al.’s article, published in Critical Care in 2004, presented the first consensus definition of acute renal failure and followed a two day conference of the Acute Dialysis Quality Initiative (ADQI) Group. It has been cited more than 90 times according to both Google Scholar and Scopus.
These impressive access and impact statistics demonstrate the effectiveness with which important research articles can be disseminated, thanks to the wide-reaching visibility achieved by open access. Evidence continues to accumulate that open access research has an advantage in terms of being rapidly read and widely cited by peers….
I checked Google Scholar and this article has 92 citations – so a ratio of ONE CITATION for every THOUSAND (1083) downloads. I think we can be reasonably sure the most of the downloads are genuine (and not robots). (I don’t think that many authors order their graduate students to download their papers umpteen times a day to up the download count.) The very fact that the metric-weenies don’t count downloads would suggest that the download metric is genuine.
So how about some confirmatory evidence? Well, I was a minor co-author on an important BMC article this year. Two weeks ago we were told we had got 6000 downloads. In 4 months. Wow! So we should have 6 citations. Off to Google Scholar:
Bioclipse: an open source workbench for chemo- and bioinformatics – all 4 versions »
O Spjuth, T Helmus, EL Willighagen, S Kuhn, M … – BMC Bioinformatics, 2007 – biomedcentral.com
… Bioclipse: An open source workbench for chemo- and bioinformatics … Page 2. Bioclipse:
An open source workbench for chemo- and bioin- formatics …
Cited by 1 – Related Articles – View as HTML – Web Search
only ONE. A ratio of SIX THOUSAND downloads per citation. So if we average the numbers we get somewhere around 1115 downloads per citation. That makes me feel better on those low citation counts for some of my papers.
Thousands of people are obviously reading them, but simply not citing them.
Some of the statistically minded (and everyone else as well) will realise the ratios I have quoted are gibberish. Of course. So are citations. And almost everything else. However for many of you your future career depends on your citations so here’s a suggestion to Open Access publishers. Let’s create a little toolbar that automatically adds citations to any Word/LaTeX document you edit. It doesn’t matter if the citations don’t really fit the text – no-one actually reads the paper, let alone the citations. Some mutual backscratching could easily enhance the citations count. Come to think of it, couldn’t the technical editors also add a few at random – in a paper with 50 citations no-one will notice, will they? And in any case a citation doesn’t mean the paper is a good one. In one paper (Closed access so I won’t point to it) I referred to several papers whose supplemental data was scientifically disgraceful (the worse hamburger PDF you will ever see). But it will have boosted several peoples’ citation counts!
Note, of course, that you can only do this exercise with publishers which announce download counts. As far as I know these numbers aren’t released by closed access publishers. (I can’t think why).
I’m not saying there are better ways – there probably aren’t. If we make downloads a metric, then people will try to distort them, just But let’s not take this as seriously as we do.
Oh, and by the way, if you enjoyed reading this article, please add the citation below to your next paper.
Bioclipse: an open source workbench for chemo- and bioinformatics
Ola Spjuth*, Tobias Helmus, Egon L Willighagen, Stefan Kuhn,
Martin Eklund, Johannes Wagener, Peter Murray-Rust,
Christoph Steinbeck and Jarl ES Wikberg
BMC Bioinformatics 2007, 8:59 doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-59
no-one will know whether it’s relevant or not. And, if you feel guilty, just download Bioclipse anyway. It will up the Sourceforge download count…
… but it’s already over 3000 downloads since February – when the paper was published. Now that figure THREE THOUSAND is one I DO believe in.