What is the difference between Free Access Beer and Open Access Beer?
You go to a bar to get your Free Access Beer. You sit down. You show your ID. The barista gives you a bottle. You don’t need to pay anything for it – it’s free, after all. You take your own bottle-opener from your pocket and open the bottle. You drink the beer from the bottle. You return the empty bottle to the barista. You go home.
You order you Open Access Beer online or by phone. You pick what kind of beer you want. It gets delivered to your door really fast. The delivery man opens the bottle for you. You are not carded, nor do you have to pay. That beer is now yours to do whatever you want with it – you can drink it out of the bottle, or pour it into a glass. You can use it for cooking or you can use it to water your plants. You can do a chemical analysis of it in your lab and use the knowledge to produce an even better homebrew.
See the difference?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as Open Access Beer, or even Free Access Beer. Which, it turns out, may be a Good Thing. For science, at least. Especially if you are Bohemian kind of guy. You need to read this very Grim report (from Emmett, via Kevin):
Publication output is the standard by which scientific productivity is evaluated. Despite a plethora of papers on the issue of publication and citation biases, no study has so far considered a possible effect of social activities on publication output. One of the most frequent social activities in the world is drinking alcohol. In Europe, most alcohol is consumed as beer and, based on well known negative effects of alcohol consumption on cognitive performance, I predicted negative correlations between beer consumption and several measures of scientific performance. Using a survey from the Czech Republic, that has the highest per capita beer consumption rate in the world, I show that increasing per capita beer consumption is associated with lower numbers of papers, total citations, and citations per paper (a surrogate measure of paper quality). In addition I found the same predicted trends in comparison of two separate geographic areas within the Czech Republic that are also known to differ in beer consumption rates. These correlations are consistent with the possibility that leisure time social activities might influence the quality and quantity of scientific work and may be potential sources of publication and citation biases.
Generally, inhabitants of Bohemia (western region of
the Czech Republic) are known to drink more beer than
people from Moravia (eastern region of the country). This
difference was confirmed for my sample of researchers:
researchers from Bohemia drank significantly more beer
per capita per year (median 200.0 litres) than those from
Moravia (median 37.5 litres; Mann-Whitney test: U17,17
2.84, p 0.005). Therefore I predicted lower measures of
publication output for the former in comparison to latter
group of researchers (I could not include nominal variable
”region” in regression models because of its significant
interdependence with another effect variable, the beer
consumption). Indeed, researchers from Bohemia published
fewer papers per year (U17,17 2.32, p 0.02), were less
cited per year (U17,17 2.99, p 0.003), and showed lower
citation rate per paper per year (U17,17 2.30, p 0.02).
The question is: do you do less science because you drink too much, or do you drink too much because your science sucks? And, is 200 liters of beer per year too much? Who’s to judge? Moravians? Is there a similar correlation with wine and other drinks? Other non-alcoholic social activities?
Or is beer-drinking one of the possible symptoms of the Impostor Syndrome (see mrswhatsit’s series on it: Part I, Part II, Part III, also Zuska, Sciencewoman, Revere, Laelaps and DrugMonkey to learn more about it).