Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dramatic Growth of Open Access: September 30, 2010

In brief

The growth rate of open access is robust and growing. DOAJ added 312 titles this quarter (more than 3 per day), for a total of 5,452. There are now more than 6,600 journals using OJS. The number of journals fully participating in PMC continues to grow, while the NIH Public Access Policy compliance rate is about 60%, indicating significant progress but still room for improvement. BASE now searches more than 25 million documents. Hindawi's monthly submissions have grown to over 2,000 this quarter. The dare to compare section below asks the evocative question of whether the open access sector is, or soon will be, ready for serious comparison with the subscription sector. There are at least four major free or open access journal collections that are more than twice the size of the largest commercial publisher, Elsevier, in terms of number of titles. For example, DOAJ, with over 5,000 titles, has more than twice as many titles than Elsevier. While there is some comparison of apples and oranges here, one conclusion seems reasonable - open access publishing is already comparable to subscription publishing, in terms of capacity if not yet by size. There are also at least two open access metasearch services that may rival, in size, Science Direct. Again, too early for conclusions, but enough to suggest that serious research may be warranted in the not too distant future. Full data are available for download or viewing. Previous editions are available.

Open Access Status as of September 30, 2010
  • Directory of Open Access Journals: 5,452 journals
    • DOAJ growth rate: 3 titles per day
    • # journals searchable at article level: 2,288 (growing at 2 titles per day)
    • # articles searchable at article level: 447,657 (growing at 362 articles per day)

  • Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE): over 25.5 million documents
    • BASE growth rate: 8,000 documents per day

  • REPEC fulltext: 825,000 (growing at over 400 documents per day)

  • arXiv: 629,806 (growing at over 185 documents per day)

  • Open Access Mandate Policies (from ROARMAP): 230 (growth rate: 2 per week)
    • Institutional Policies: 96 (growth rate: 1 per week)

  • PubMedCentral
    • # journals actively participating: 960 (growing at 1 title / day
    • # journals with immediate free access: 556 (growing at 10 titles / month)
    • # journals with all articles open access: 480 (growing at 9 titles / month)
    • estimated NIH Public Access Policy compliance rate: 60%
    • % of articles published within the last 2 years with free fulltext: 19%

Dare we compare?

The following figures are deliberately intended to be evocative, if not provocative. It is acknowledged that there is some comparison of apples and oranges here. The key point is that there are an awful lot of open access apples - or oranges, as you prefer - enough so that comparisons with the subscription based sector either are, or soon will, be worthy of serious research.

There are at least 4 large collections of free and/or open access scholarly journals that are more than double the size of the world's largest scholarly publisher, Elsevier, by number of titles. Even when we limit to peer-reviewed collections alone, DOAJ now includes more than twice the number of titles in Science Direct. The chart above shows just a few of these large collections for comparison purposes. Electronic Journals Library, with over 26,000 titles, has been omitted from the chart to better illustrate the differences in size of the collections included. This does not mean that open access publishing exceeds subscription-based publishing at this time. However, it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that the capacity of the open access sector already rivals that of the subscription-based sector.

Similarly, there are at least two major metasearch services, Scientific Commons and the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE), where searches encompass more than twice the number of documents available through Elsevier's Science Direct. While it is not possible to draw any conclusions about the relative number of articles available from each search (both BASE and Scientific Commons will draw on many more types of items than just articles, and duplication due to multiple deposits is likely), it is reasonable to conclude that the relative amount of articles available open access and through major publishers either is, or soon will be, worthy of comparison through serious research.

Milestones this quarter

Hindawi's monthly submissions grow to over 2,000 September 7, 2010 announcement from Hindawi's Paul Peters

More than 25 million records in BASE August 3, 2010 announcement, Dirk Pieper, BASE


The NIH Public Access policy compliance rate of 60%, not too far different from the 44% compliance rate reported by Robert Kiley of the Wellcome Trust for their policy earlier this year, is both a sign of progress and an indication that there is still a great deal of work to do to make works publicly or openly accessible, even with these strong mandates. The continuing strong growth of open access both overall and in the PubMed context, as illustrated by the growing list of journals participating fully in PMC far beyond the mandates, contrasts with this lagging compliance rate, and suggests ongoing polarization within the publishing community.

Methodology notes

Growth rates are calculated on the basis of growth over the past year divided by the relevant time-metric (365 for daily, 12 for monthly, 52 for weekly), and rounded.