Monday, July 9, 2012

The Accessibility Quotient: A New Measure of Open Access

Mathew A. Willmott, Katharine H. Dunn, and Ellen Finnie Duranceau (all from Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have just published "The Accessibility Quotient: A New Measure of Open Access" in Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication. They discuss the potentially very useful results of an examination of a measure that assessed the accessibility to publications by MIT faculty.

INTRODUCTION The Accessibility Quotient (AQ), a new measure for assisting authors and librarians in assessing and characterizing the degree of accessibility for a group of papers, is proposed and described. The AQ offers a concise measure that assesses the accessibility of peer-reviewed research produced by an individual or group, by incorporating data on open availability to readers worldwide, the degree of financial barrier to access, and journal quality. The paper reports on the context for developing this measure, how the AQ is calculated, how it can be used in faculty outreach, and why it is a useful lens to use in assessing progress towards more open access to research. METHODS Journal articles published in 2009 and 2010 by faculty members from one department in each of MIT’s five schools were examined. The AQ was calculated using economist Ted Bergstrom’s Relative Price Index to assess affordability and quality, and data from SHERPA/RoMEO to assess the right to share the peer-reviewed version of an article. RESULTS The results show that 2009 and 2010 publications by the Media Lab and Physics have the potential to be more open than those of Sloan (Management), Mechanical Engineering, and Linguistics & Philosophy. DISCUSSION Appropriate interpretation and applications of the AQ are discussed and some limitations of the measure are examined, with suggestions for future studies which may improve the accuracy and relevance of the AQ. CONCLUSION The AQ offers a concise assessment of accessibility for authors, departments, disciplines, or universities who wish to characterize or understand the degree of access to their research output, capturing additional dimensions of accessibility that matter to faculty.

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