Abdelghani MADDI, Catherine GUASPARE-CARTRON, Floriana GARGIULO, Michel DUBOIS, (with E.Monneau), "Streetlight effect in PubPeer comments: are Open Access publications more scrutinized?", Scientometrics, 2024

Abstract. The Streetlight Effect represents an observation bias that occurs when individuals search for something only where it is easiest to look. Despite the significant development of Post-Publication Peer Review (PPPR) in recent years, facilitated in part by platforms such as PubPeer, existing literature has not examined whether PPPR is affected by this type of bias. In other words, if the PPPR mainly concerns publications to which researchers have direct access (eg to analyze image duplications, etc.). In this study, we compare the Open Access (OA) structures of publishers and journals among 51,882 publications commented on PubPeer to those indexed in OpenAlex database (#156,700,177). Our findings indicate that OA journals are 33% more prevalent in PubPeer than in the global total (52% for the most commented journals). This result can be attributed to disciplinary bias in PubPeer, with overrepresentation of medical and biological research (which exhibits higher levels of openness). However, after normalization, the results reveal that PPPR does not exhibit a Streetlight Effect, as OA publications, within the same discipline, are on average 16% less prevalent in PubPeer than in the global total. These results suggest that the process of scientific self-correction operates independently of publication access status.