Report: 100 Stories – The Impact of Open Access

Citation: Banker, J-G. & Chatterji, P. (2016). “100 Stories: The Impact of Open Access” (Preprint) Open Access to Scholarly Communication in 2016: Status and Benefits Review, UNESCO (2016). [link]

This report, authored by the CEO of Bepress and a senior employee, ostensibly aims to supplement Altmetrics and other measures by providing a “framework” that shows some of the ways in which institutional repositories can have an impact on readers (“Advancing Knowledge”), authors (“Reputation Building”), and institutions (“Demonstrating Achievements”) (pp. 2-3). This is done by presenting what are essentially 100 short case studies of institutions who use Digital Commons, the repository software owned by Bepress.

Some examples of the impacts the authors present are:

Advancing innovation
Improving access to education
Updating practitioners

Amplifying scholarship
Finding collaborators
Preserving scholarly legacy

Building reputation
Strengthening recruiting
Professionalizing students

Although these all seem fairly undeniable as things that OA can accomplish, it’s a bit of a stretch to label what the authors have created as a framework, a term which the OED defines as “an essential or underlying structure; a provisional design, an outline; a conceptual scheme or system.”

Rather, the document presents more a list of possible outcomes that can be achieved by using an institutional repository or other system to distribute scholarly research under an OA model.

That’s still a fine and useful thing, and the list of case studies should be of interest to anyone looking to start up an institutional repository.

Ultimately, however, the overselling of the outcomes as a framework, coupled with the obvious incentive that Bepress has to showcase their own product, makes this report feel a bit closer to advertising than a study into the impacts of OA publishing.