We’ve completed our final week of #DigPINS, and this week focuses on scholarship. One thing we consider is how to work “in the open,” which is a daunting idea for me, mainly because it just isn’t done that way in the econ-world. Which is also what makes the idea really interesting to me!
We were challenged to find an open-access article to share with the group. Seems pretty simple, right? False. One ScienceDirect I searched all over for articles looking at land conservation, housing values, oil and gas drilling, etc, and I found that there were very slim options available. Some journals were consistently showing up as the open-access, Creative Commons licence, and ALL of the top economics field journals were removed when I filtered “open-access.”
As an example: I searched the phrase “land use hedonic economics” which yielded 2,669 results. Awesome! Here are some journals that had results matching this phrase:
Most of the journals listed above are well-known and respected economics journals (i.e. places I, and my department, would be happy to have my research land)
Next, I filtered for open-access and I was left with 114 results. Of which, only 5 of them came from a well-known economics journal: Ecological Economics.
In my search, only 4.3% of journal articles are open access (In general, this implies that people other than academics can access them). Further, only 0.1% of the open access articles are from (relatively) high ranking economics journals. In Ecological Economics. I found Yong Jiang & Stephen K. Swallow’s 2017 article titled: Impact Fees Coupled With Conservation Payments to Sustain Ecosystem Structure: A Conceptual and Numerical Application at the Urban-Rural Fringe, which investigates how we might leverage environmental impact fees on development in order to finance conservation payments in the surrounding areas.
So the idea of working in the open can be a little daunting, given the fact that many other economists aren’t choosing (PAYING FOR) the open access option for their article. According to Jim Ottaviani, there’s a 20% benefit of increased citations from having an article designated as open access vs. closed. Economists LOVE their cost-benefit analysis, so why are we not seeing more open-access articles from economists? One reason may be the journal’s approach to fees: author-based or reader-based. Author-based fees place the burden on the author either for submission or publication, while reader-based fees generate revenue from subscriptions. McCabe & Snyder (2005) have a novel model that proposes author-based fees that are split between submission and publication. I really think that balancing fees between the submission and publication process can encourage open-access by authors and also remove the incentive to overpublish. One concern is that if a journal’s revenue is based on the number of articles that they publish, they are incentivized to overpublish. However, as McCabe and Snyder (2005) point out, if the journal generates revenue from submissions, the incentive to overpublish is removed.
Interestingly, my most recent publication, Wide Open Spaces: Estimating the Willingness to Pay for Adjacent Preserved Open Space landed at Regional Science and Urban Economics. This journal allows authors 50 days of open-access to share their article with no sign-up requests. So, you have until mid-late August to check it out :-). I will say that I chose to forgo open-access based on the explicit costs to me. I will not be providing citation counts or views in my pre-tenure prospectus so the potential benefits to me (professionally) are relatively low. Given my research/ professional development budget constraint, I would prefer to present my work at an environmental economics-focused conference. This would give my work concentrated exposure to other professionals in my specific field, which is great! However, not paying for open access removes any potential collaborations outside my discipline or other economists who may not be at the conferences, which is not so great.
Overall: Working in the open feels to me like uncharted territory. I’m definitely going to be more open with discussing ideas in public, hopefully generating new connections and collaborations!
Cheers to the end of DigPINS, it has been a great month, I have learned SO MUCH, and gotten so many new ideas/approaches for all aspects of my professional life.
McCabe, Mark J., and Christopher M. Snyder. “Open Access and Academic Journal Quality.” The American Economic Review, vol. 95, no. 2, 2005, pp. 453–458. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4132864.