The effect of open access on research quality

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The number of articles being published open access has been increasing and some research funders are starting to mandate their researchers to publish solely in open access-only journals. Reasons to promote open access include that it might lower costs and increase the diffusion of knowledge. One unintended consequence of moving to a system in which all journals are APC-based open access might be that high-quality journals become more lenient and start accepting lower quality articles compared to what they would do under subscription-based access. Using a game-theoretical analysis I show that this is indeed the case as long as readers value research quality to some extent. Moreover, if in addition to open access authors are no longer evaluated based on metrics of the journals in which they publish then quality standards of journals will deteriorate further. Hence, journals will no longer be providing the service of selecting the highest quality articles to its readers. This might in fact lower the diffusion of knowledge, as readers will have to spend more time on judging the quality, being at odds with one of the main reasons for promoting open access.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-756
JournalJournal of Informetrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • open access
  • publishing
  • research quality
  • evaluation of researchers


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