The existence of a “Matthew Effect” (a feedback loop where (dis)ad-
vantage tends to beget further (dis)advantage) in science has long
been recognised. In 1968, Merton * proposed that already success-
ful scientists receive disproportionately high rewards in comparison
to less-famous counterparts. Subsequent studies have identified the
Matthew Effect at work based on criteria like institutions, departments,
geographical proximity and countries, as well as the individual attri-
butes of researchers (e.g., race, gender). It is at work across scientific
endeavours, including peer review, public engagement, article cita-
tions, funding acquisition and prestige as measured via awards/prizes.
Open Science promises to fundamentally transform scholarship to
bring greater transparency, inclusivity and participation to research processes, and increase the academic, economic and societal im-
pact of research outputs. Yet access is not made uniform simply
because resources are made available via the Internet. Re-use and
participation must also be accompanied by the capacity (in terms of
knowledge, skills, technological readiness and motivation) to take
up these resources. Absorptive capacity varies considerably. This
is true of institutions, businesses and people. Such differences are
exacerbated by factors like geographic location, language abilities,
technological skills, educational levels and access to basic equip-
ment (including, e.g., Internet access). Those in possession of such
capacities will remain at an advantage, with the effect that Open
Science’s laudable agenda of inclusivity is put at risk by conditions
of “cumulative advantage” (“Matthew Effect”).
This presentation outlines our first findings on the extent to which
Open Science practices (OA, FAIR data, open peer review, etc.) are
subject to the Matthew Effect and opens up to critical discussion
the extent to which current strategies for achieving Open Science
may actually exacerbate or introduce inequalities.
Period26 Sep 2018
Held atOpen Access Tage
Event typeConference
LocationGraz, Austria
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Information, Communication & Computing