Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dramatic Growth December 2006 & Predictions for 2007


The dramatic growth of open access, both publishing and self-archiving, continued in the final quarter of 2006. The Directory of Open Access Journals passed a significant milestone in December, exceeding 2,500 journals; about 10% of the world's peer-reviewed journals are now fully open access. When new journals are created, there is evidence that they are at least 30% likely to be fully open access. This trend is likely to accelerate as more journals become knowledgeable about new, efficienct, freely available open source software such as Open Journal Systems, which greatly facilitates online and open access publishing.

Strong growth continues in open access archiving, with more archives and more full-text documents; all archives tracked showed very strong growth in 2006.

There are signs of an open access movement that is on the verge of emerging from the innovative edge into the mainstream. Open access has become an academic area unto itself, and a challenge to study, as those who have read even a portion of Peter Suber's more than 10,000 well-selected, thoughtful blogposts can attest. Open access education, however, is just beginning. PhD students in librarianship, for example, are finding open access and related topics an interesting field of study. Students are beginning to hear about open access in their courses, but soon they will be taught by teachers for whom this is their area of expertise.

My predictions for 2007 are continued, and accelerating, growth in open access. The most important trends I see for 2007, however, are less tangible in nature; a shift in focus from debate on the pros, cons, and feasibility of open access, to more solid work on the details of implementation. For librarians, a key will be a shift in perspective on collections, from the idea of purchasing or leasing what our users need, to building and preserving the collections our researchers and others produce. I see this trend as beginning in 2007.

September - December 2006

The final quarter of 2006 showed continuing strongth growth in open access in all measures tracked, with the equivalent of annual growth rates ranging from 19% (for DOAJ) and up. Particularly strong growth is noteworthy for E-LIS, with a growth rate equivalent to 55% annually (586 documents added), and PubMedCentral, with an annual equivalent of 40% (69,884).

Comments: strong growth in both E-LIS and PubMedCentral illustrates that different approaches to implementing open access can be highly successful. E-LIS, the Open Archive for Library and Information Studies, is a highly distributed and volunteer-based organization, with volunteer Editors around the world and a very small central staff in Italy. PubMedCentral is a project of the U.S.' National Institutes of Health, and is a highly centralized organization with paid staff.


Strong growth in open access, fairly steady with some seasonable variations or local factors affecting rate of change for particular initiatives, is now confirmed, for open access publishing and archiving, throughout 2006.

The Directory of Open Access Journals exceeded 2,500 journals this December; for details, see their Dec. 15 Press Release 2,500 journals in the DOAJ. It is estimated that there are about 25,000 peer-reviewed journals in the world; if this estimate is correct, then now 10% of peer-reviewed journals are now fully open access.

While the growth in open access journals is coming from both conversions of existing journals and development of new journals as open access, there is evidence of a increasing tendency for new journals to start up as open access, as discussed in my blogpost of yesterday, The Newer the Journal, the More Likely it is Open Access. According to Ulrich's, journals with start years from the previous century are less than 10% likely to be open access, while journals started in the new millenium are about 30% likely to be open access. There are definite limitations to Ulrich's data on open access journals, particularly evidence of understatement of open access journals.

One new measure added to this quarter's Dramatic Growth update is the estimate of 800 journals now using Open Journal Systems, in 10 languages. While the precise number at different points in time is not known for this free, open source software, this is remarkable usage and development for a software just released in 2003. This is significant because the efficiences of this new breed of software, and the free availability, is an important support for open access publishing. [Disclosure: I am on the planning committee for the First International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference].

There were many indications in 2006 of an open access movement that is on the verge of emerging from the innovative edge into the mainstream; most notably the open access policies either developed (e.g. RCUK), coming into effect (Wellcome Trust), or begun this year (e.g. FRPAA, the Australian Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research).

The phenomenon of open access is already well established as an area of scholarly study in its own right, as readers of Peter Suber's wonderful Open Access News blog, which exceeded 10,000 well-selected, informative and interesting posts in December; and the monthly SPARC Open Access Newsletter,which passed the 100 mark earlier in the year.

Despite these signs of maturity, implementation of open access is still in the very early stages, which will make the next few years most interesting indeed.

One illustration of the coming explosion in growth of open access relates to the beginnings of broad-based education on open access per se. While Peter Suber and other early leaders have been teaching those who chose to learn for many years, others are still preparing to teach. In May of 2007, the University of British Columbia's School of Library and Information Studies (SLAIS) will be offering a course on open access for the first time, which I will be teaching.

Students are already hearing about open access in many of their classes. Like many other academic disciplines, librarianship will soon be looking for a new generation of teachers with many retirements of library school faculty anticipated in the next few years. Open access and related topics are popular research areas for today's PhD students; within the next few years, many a library school will have one or more faculty members with expertise in this area.

Speaking of PhD students, one of the early areas of rapid growth in open access has been OA archiving of theses. One of the results of this will be graduates - new faculty members, new professionals and businesspeople - who are knowledgeable about open access, a whole new group likely to produce more than its fair share of advocates and OA supporters.

My prediction is that researchers will begin to prioritize learning about open access in response to mandates from funding agencies, and the more they learn about open access and related initiatives such as open data, the more they will embrace and support it. Educational efforts by librarians and others will be a very helpful factor along the way; the policy mandates will provide the incentives, and librarians will be increasing ready to help provide the information and needed support.

The most important thing I see happening in 2007, however, is less tangible in nature, but rather a shift in perspective; from debating the pros, cons, and possibilities of open access, to a focus on how to implement. For librarians, the key trend I predict for 2007 is a shift in perspective on library collections, from a focus on collections as purchase or lease, to one of building and preserving collections. This is a subtle shift, and arguably one that reflects a return to more traditional values, which is nevertheless key to the transition. Once we understand that building and preserving collections of the work of our researchers for everyone to share is the very essence of librarianship, everything else will fall into place, in my view.


Early figures are from my preprint, The Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Implications and Opportunities for Resource Sharing, Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 16, 3 (2006), and my updates:
Dec. 31, 2005 Update and 2006 Predictions
March 31, 2006 Update.
June 30, 2006 Update.
September 2006 Update.

Directory of Open Access Journals:
December 31, 2006: 2,514 journals (34 titles added in the last 30 days)
September 30, 2006: 2,401 journals (45 titles added in the last 30 days)
June 30, 2006: 2,292 journals (38 titles added in the last 30 days)
March 31, 2006: 2,158 journals (78 titles added in the last 30 days)
Dec. 31, 2005: 1,988 titles
February 2005 - over 1,400 titles
This is an increase of 113 titles from September - December 2006, a 4.7% growth rate or the equivalent of 19% annually.
The total title increase in 2006 was 526, a 26% increase over the year, or an average increase of almost one and a half titles per calendar day. Please note that this figure likely underestimates actual growth, as it reflects a thorough weeding project early in 2006.

December 31, 2006: 747 journals searchable at article level - 124,033 articles in DOAJ total
September 30, 2006: 697 journals searchable at article level - 109,840 articles in DOAJ total
June 30, 2006: 653 journals searchable at article level -- 101,434 articles in DOAJ total
March 31, 2006: 594 journals searchable at article level -- 92,751 articles in DOAJ total
Dec. 31, 2004: 492 journals searchable at article level - 83,235
This is an increase of 50 journal titles during September - December, 2006; a 7% growth rate, or equivalent of an annual 28% growth rate.

Note that the DOAJ list does not represent all open access journals, only the ones that have met DOAJ standards, and have gone through the DOAJ vetting process. Jan Szczepanski's list is much longer: over 4,705 titles total as of early December 2005.

Open Journal Systems
800 titles using OJS (as of June 2006) in ten languages

December 21, 2006: 9,931,910 records from 726 institutions
September 27, 2006: 9,417,772 records from 680 institutions
June 30, 2006: 7,605,729 records from 647 institutions
March 22, 2006: 7,040,586 records from 610 institutions
Dec. 22, 2005: 6,255,599 records from 578 institutions
February 2005: over 5 million records, 405 institutions
This is an increase of 514,138 records in a quarter, or an equivalent of over 2 million records annually. By percentage, this is an 5% increase in this quarter, or an equivalent of about 20% annually (a much lower increase than the previous quarter). The number of institutions has increased by 46, 7%, or the equivalent of 28% annually.
For all of 2006 (Dec. 22, 2005 - Dec. 21, 2006), OAIster increased by 3,676,311 records, a 59% increase in records; and 148 institutions, a 26% increase.

The Registry of Open Access Repositories lists 792 archives as of December 31, 2006, up from 746 on September 30, 2006, an increase of 46 or 6%, equivalent of 24% annual increase.

Highwire Press Free Online Fulltext Articles
December 31, 2006: 1,552,467 free full-text articles
September 30, 2006: 1,435,924 free full-text article
June 30, 2006: 1,354,559 free full-text articles
March 31, 2006: 1,335,546 free articles
Dec. 31, 2005: 1,131,135 free articles
early January 2005: over 800,000 free articles
This is an increase of 116,543 articles, or a 8% increase (equivalent to 32% annually).
For all of 2006, this is an increase of 421,332 articles, or a 37% annual increase.

December 31, 2006: 766,387 OAI records, 100% freely available
September 30, 2006: 696,503 OAI records, 100% freely accessible (data from the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) by Dr. Tim Brody. The ROAR site shows the impressive, if only beginning, growth curve of PMC.
This is an increase of 69,884 records in a quarter, a 10% increase or equivalent of 40% annual growth.

December 31, 2006: 400,814 e-prints
September 30, 2006: 386,716 e-prints
June 30, 2006: 374,166 e-prints
March 31, 2006: 362,334 e-prints
Dec. 31, 2005: Open access to 350,745 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and Quantitative Biology.
This is an increase of 14,098 e-prints in this quarter, a 3.6% increase in this quarter, or the equivalent of 15% annually.
For all of 2006, this is an increase of 50,069 e-prints, a 14% increase.

RePEC: Research Papers in Economics
December 31, 2006: over 451,000 items of interest, over 343,000 of which are available online:
September 30, 2006: over 428,000 items of interest, over 321,000 of which are available online
June 30, 2006: over 385,000 items of interest, over 282,000 of which are available online
March 31, 2006: over 367,000 items of interest, over 266,000 of which are available online
Dec. 31, 2005: over 350,000 items of interest, over 250,000 of which are available online.
February 2005: over 200,000 freely available items.
This is an increase of 23,000 items available online, a 5% increase, or the equivalent of a 20% annual increase.
For all of 2006, this is an increase of 101,000 items of interest, a 29% increase.

December 31, 2006: 4,871 documents
September 30, 2006: 4,285 documents
June 30, 2006: 3,885 documents
March 31, 2006: 3,539 documents
Dec. 31, 2005: 3,095 documents
This is an increase of 586 documents, 14% or the equivalent of a 55% annual increase.
For all of 2006, this is an increase of 1,776 documents, a 57% increase.

Canadian Association of Research Libraries : Metadata Harvester
December 31, 2006: 25,080 items from 12 archives
September 30, 2006: 24,370 items from 12 archives
June 30, 2006: 22,819 items from 12 archives
March 31, 2006: 22,566 records from 12 archives
Dec. 31, 2005: 21,922 records from 11 archives.
This is an increase of 710 items, or a 2.9% increase (equivalent of 12% annually), significantly lower than the apparent growth of last quarter but significantly more than the growth of the second quarter of the year. The increase from the equivalent of a 4% annual growth rate to a 12% annual growth is likely more realistic; the third quarter includes metadata-only records added in error by one of the archives, which have subsequently been removed.
For all of 2006, this is an increase of 3,158 records, or a 14% increase.

Other excellent sources of data for illustrating the Dramatic Growth of Open Access: the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) , by Dr. Tim Brody, which provides the number of OAI records for 746 archives, an estimated percentage that are fulltext, and charts illustrating the growth of each archive. The University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service's OAIster now also features growth charts for archives and records harvested.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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