Tags as indicators of growing awareness about OA?

One way to disseminate information about OA is via “social bookmarking”. As described by Ben Lund, Tagging and Bookmarking In Institutional Repositories, Nascent, March 13, 2006, “Social bookmarking is the process of saving your bookmarks (or links, or favourites, whichever term you prefer) on a website and making them available for others to see“. [See also: More on tagging eprints in OA repositories, posted by Peter Suber on March 14, 2006, and Social Bookmarking Tools (II): A Case Study – Connotea, Ben Lund, Tony Hammond, Martin Flack and Timo Hannay, D-Lib Magazine 2005(April); 11(4)].

As noted in the article by Lund, Hammond, Flack and Hannay, one can obtain data about the number of bookmarks in Connotea matching the tag “open access” by visiting http://www.connotea.org/tag/open%20access.
When I did this today (December 31, 2006), a total of 842 entries were tagged “open access”. Of these, I counted 738 that were posted in 2006, and 104 in 2005 (beginning on March 2, 2005).

Ben Lund also points out that Del.icio.us is perhaps the best known social bookmarking service. “Connotea is a similar service that is tailored specifically for use by scientists and other academics“. A search of Del.icio.us for bookmarks tagged “open_access” yielded a total of 1830 bookmarks. Topping the list was the Directory of open access journals, saved by 1781 people. Next was Peter Suber’s Open Access News, saved by 225 people. (Third on the list was another address for the DOAJ, http://www.doaj.org/home).

Technorati permits searches for tagged blog posts. A search for “open access” in tags yielded 1,857 blog posts in all languages. Of these, 1,280 were posts in English.

CiteULike can be searched for recent papers tagged “open_access“. Of 20 papers classified in this way, 16 were posted in 2006, 3 in 2005 and 1 in 2004.

Perhaps such data may provide useful indicators of growing awareness about OA?

Added January 8, 2007:

Of course, social bookmarking itself increased markedly during the past two years. Preliminary evidence that the 7-fold increase (from 104 in 2005 to 738 in 2006) in the use of the “open access” tag in Connotea wasn’t simply a result of the increased popularity of social bookmarking has been published as a short “obervation” in Philica. See: Till, J. Tags Indicate That Open Access Is Flourishing. PHILICA.COM Observation number 34.



  1. tillje said

    For lists of social bookmarking sites, see: Search Results from Rollyo Explore Searchrolls.

  2. tillje said

    I’ve now checked 100 popular tags (defined as tags that were used at least 100 times in 2005). The great majority of these (75%) were also identified (although not always at the same time) as “popular” by Connotea (see: http://www.connotea.org/cloud/). The arithmetic average for the ratio R(2006/2005) = f(2006)/f(2005) for the 100 tags was 2.8, where f(2006) is the frequency of use of a particular tag in 2006, and f(2005) is the frequency of use of the same tag in 2005. The geometric mean for the 100 tags was 2.3. Only 3 of the 100 tags yielded a value for R(2006/2005) of greater than 7. These were (in alphabetical order) the tags “HIV” [R(2006/2005) = 9.0], “library” [R = 9.4] and “open access” [R = 7.1]. These results confirm that “open access” was among a very small minority of popular tags that increased greatly in popularity between 2005 and 2006.

    Added July 8, 2007: I’ve self-archived the data for the 100 tags as a Google Spreadsheet entitled Connotea_Tags.

  3. tillje said

    Matt Hodgkinson has posted an item about my “Observation” in Philica, in his Journalology blog (10 March 2007): Tags track growth in open access (and a dig at Philica). As of 22 Mar, there have been 337 views of the Philica “Observation” (but no peer reviews posted to Philica so far).

    Added July 8, 2007: As of 1 July, there have been 758 views of this “Observation” (but no peer reviews posted to Philica).

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