Really great article examining the trade-offs for Open Access by T. Scott Plutchak, the editor of the JMLA. The opening paragraph is a great illustration of the sorts of surprising audiences you get when you open up your content.
Between June of 2004 and May of 2005, the number of unique users accessing the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) and its predecessor, the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association (BMLA), on the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central (PMC) system averaged just over 20,000 per month. When I first saw these numbers on the PMC administration site, I was astonished. The members of the Medical Library Association (MLA) itself (who we might presume are the main audience of the JMLA) number only about 4,500, and the print run of the journal is generally in the neighborhood of 5,000 copies. It seemed likely to me that the number of unique readers in any given month would be just some fraction of that core audience.
I find the article really refreshing, especially since I somewhat unfairly critiqued the JMLA in my Master’s Paper for not going Open Access. While I know my little diatribe didn’t have an effect on it, it’s refreshing to see Mr. Plutchak singing the praises of OA anyway. We had a bit of a discussion after the publication of my Master’s Paper, and he was very kind in pointing out areas where I had possibly mis-represented the JMLA and its stances. I was grateful at the time, and remain so.
Very nice article…I’d love to see more and more of this cost/benefit analysis going on. I’ve been saying for years now that the benefits of OA far outweigh the doom-and-gloom that publishers sometimes espouse.