Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Supplementary evidence from Reed Elsevier


  In March 2004 Elsevier was questioned before the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee on the topic of Scientific Publications.

  The Committee has asked for additional information re. the increase of usage of full text articles of Elsevier's journal collection. The Committee showed special interest in the growth of journal usage and wanted to better understand whether there was a relationship between usage levels and the impact factor of journals.

  Below you will find the analysis to answer the above question. The analysis includes a (representative) sample of 28 Elsevier journals. These journals are subsequently divided into 7 subject areas of 4 journals each, of which 2 have a relatively High Impact Factor and 2 a relatively Low Impact Factor. (ie Impact Factors are based on the 2002 listings provided and published by the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI). Review journals (Trends, Current Opinion, Advances in..) are excluded from the analysis as these are normally highly used and show up in top most cited journals. So the analysis only includes comparable journals.

First, usage-growth differs somewhat between subject areas: Cell Biology, General Medicine and Nuclear Physics show the highest usage increase, while the other 4 areas are on average somewhat lower.

  Second, when looking at the usage-increase 2001 to 2003 by journal, it stands out, that almost all journals are in between an interval of + 150% and + 450% growth of full text article usage.

  Third, it is clear that the usage increase of low Impact Factor journals is very close to the growth of high Impact Factor journals. In quite a number of cases low impact journals grow even faster than high impact journals.

  Finally, one could claim that the wider the audience that has access to journals the more these journals are used and irrespective of the citation levels they receive.

June 2004

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