Dimensions’ Access Politics

Word choice reveals Dimensions’ non-neutral stance about publishing models

As a data provider, we might hope for neutrality — that is, for the analyst to parse data in a way in which the data and labels are accurate, impartial, apolitical.

Dimensions has a labeling problem in this regard, as it labels subscription journals as “closed” in contrast with various stripes of OA:

Of course, the most inflammatory word here is the first one — closed. It makes it seem as if subscription journals are barring entry, preventing usage, or hiding information. It’s a loaded word, and inappropriate/inaccurate.

If we’re going to be accurate, all journals — OA or not — are closed in the sense that a journal has to accept a submission. There are standards for authors, so journals are closed to authors until acceptance occurs. It’s why many journals avoid language around acceptance until it is certain.

For readers, the issue is different, and Dimensions is making a business model judgement here.