Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dramatic Growth of Open Access: 2008 Early Annual Edition

This is a special early annual edition of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series, to facilitate predictions and planning for the coming year. Annual figures are for a full year, Dec. 11, 2007 - Dec. 11, 2008.

Highlights: a quick snapshot of the continuum of access to scholarly journals suggests not only strong growth of open access journals, but a scholarly communications system well on its way to transitioning from toll to open access, with the pure toll access journal (no author self-archiving allowed, no back issues, etc.) a small, and diminishing, portion of the total. The growth of open access journals continues to be dramatic; there are now over 3,700 journals in DOAJ, 781 more journals than last year, 2 new titles per day. While content recruitment at the local repository may seem painfully slow, on a global basis the content and growth are phenomenal, with more than 24 million publications available through Scientific Commons, 19 million through OAIster. Every week, close to 150,000 new items become available through Scientific Commons.

2009 is predicted to be a year of implementation, of Walking the Talking*. The open access movement has crossed many milestones and gone through many learning curves. We now know what makes for good open access policy; OA has been demonstrated to be not only economically viable, but for some, also profitable; and many have become knowledgeable about the tools of OA. It is important not to underestimate, either the work that still needs to be done - or the growing momentum of Open Access.

Scholarly Communication in Transition: The Open Access Continuum

The picture above is a snapshot designed as a rough illustration of scholarly journals in transition as of December 2008. Over 15% of scholarly journals are open access (gold). Another 70% support open access by allowing author self-archiving (green). The light yellow and green squares are designed to show that many of these green journals provide additional support for open access, such as free back issues, hybrid open access, or stronger support for OA than other green journals, such as accepting author addenda or permitting posting of the publishers' own PDF. The white journals (from RoMEO white) are the journals that are toll access and do not allow author self-archiving. Even here, there are many journals that allow for author self-archiving under certain circumstances, such as when a funding agencies requires OA.

The purpose of this exercise is to illustrate that, while the continued growth of fully open access journals - over 2 titles per day - is indeed dramatic, it is only a small part of the story. In the author's opinion, it is not just the OA journals but indeed the whole of scholarly journal publishing that is in the midst of a transition from toll to open access.

Dramatic Growth of Open Access 2008 - Highlights

While at the local level, institutional repository coordinators report (accurately) that recruiting content is difficult and growth no doubt seems very slow, at a global level the growth rate of material in archives is absolutely phenomenal.

Scientific Commons
  • 24 million publications, 963 repositories
  • increase of 45% or 7 million publications in the past year
  • adding close to 150,000 publications per week
  • 19 million items
  • 4.8 million items added in the past year, a 34% increase
  • 137 repositories added in the past year
Material searchable through a Canadian harvesting service, the CARL Metadata Harvester, increased by 67%.

  • over half a million fulltext items added, a 52% increase (based on ROAR data)
  • 538 journals participating; 413 provide immediate free access, 288 provide full open access
  • this quarter - 46 more journals participating in PMC, 38 more with free text immediately available, 31 more open access
The Directory of Open Access Journals
  • 3,781 journals
  • 781 journals added in the past year,
  • growth rate 2 titles per day
There have been some minor decreases in numbers. Highwire Free lost one completely free site; the CARL Metadata Harvester is harvesting one less repository. The PMC Free figures for full-text for recent entries is down slightly. DOAJ new titles is low this month, at 47; this is more likely to reflect staffing flucutations at DOAJ than anything else.

arXiv: 512,366 e-prints, 13% increase

RePEC: 555,000 items online (670,000 total), 25% increase in fulltext

E-LIS: 8,654 documents, 23% increase

59 Open Access Mandate policies (ROARMAP), 11 proposed policies

For comparison purposes, see the December 11, 2007 Interim Dramatic Growth of Open Access
Highlights: Last year I predicted that 15% of the world's peer-reviewed journals would be OA by the end of 2008. This number has been surpassed. Last year, the DOAJ growth rate was 1.4 titles per day; this year, it is over 2 titles per day. Last year, there were 40 OA policies; now, there are more than 50.

Predictions for 2009 - Walking the Talking

2009 will be the year of Walking the Talking*. In the December 2008 SPARC Open Access Newsletter, Peter Suber talks about his predictions for 2009, focused on the Obama administration and the worldwide recession, and also about how open access has over time passed a series of crossover points. From my perspective, some important points already crossed include:
  • defining OA (with the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002)
  • the philosophical arguments (whether open access is desirable as a goal)
  • green OA as a minimum is now the norm
  • the economic arguments (with the profitability of Hindawi and BMC and the Springer acquistion of BMC)
  • the major policy debates
Not all of these crossover points are irrevocably crossed over in every circumstance, of course; it is rather that, in the author's opinion, critical mass has been achieved in every area. There are still anti-OA lobbying efforts, and many OA policies still to be developed. It is important not to underestimate the effort needed to complete the tasks of transitioning to OA; but it is also important not to underestimate the considerable momentum of the open access movement. In 2008, Open Journal Systems was taught at many workshops around the world, and at least 3 library school classes developed journals as a class assignment. The NIH experience has taught us what is needed for effective open access policy, and Harvard has provided a new approach to policy. Libraries are going through a learning curve with new, standard services, including repositories and journal hosting.

In 2009, new open access policies will have substantial experience both with policy and implementation to draw on. There are many more people now trained and ready to take on the work of creating and supporting open access journals and open access archives. There will be some debate, and no doubt the occasional setback, but overall, the momentum towards open access will continue to grow. Success will bring more success; when people begin to see what an open access archive can do, recruiting content will become much easier. Journals that see other journals successfully transition to OA will find it easier to convert themselves. As university administrators and faculty ponder the open access policies of funding agencies, and the benefits of open access to them, the will to implement will grow, and along with it, needed support.

As for the worldwide recession, this may cause some slowing of the growth of everything, including open access. However, the recession also provides incentive for seeking more cost-effective ways of doing things, and so a strong incentive to move to open access, a topic covered in more depth in my Essential Efficiencies series.

In numeric terms, a conservative estimate would be about 20% of the world's scholarly journals fully open access by the end of the year, and watch for noticeable increases in growth rates in repositories at the local level.

* Walking the Talking is the name of the Canadian Library Association Open Access Interest Group's preconference to the Second International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference. Thanks to Leah Vanderjagt of the University of Alberta / CLA OAIG for setting such a timely theme and title.

Open Data - data only Google Spreadsheet (for viewing):

Open Data - data plus growth Google Spreadsheet (for viewing):

Dataverse - for downloading:

This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access series.