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.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Full open access to articles - with library savings of over 70%

Update October 5, 2010: the currency reported in the STM report was USD, not UK pounds sterling. Thanks to Mark Ware, author of the STM report, for this information - and interesting example of open peer review in action! The USD currency is reflected in the STM report v1.1 on the STM website.

What this means is that my original figure (based on an assumption of US currency) of 64% savings is more accurate. I will rework the spreadsheet and re-release in the near future. Additional open peer review is welcome.

At the PLoS average article processing fee of $1,649 U.S. per article, or BMC average article processing charge of $1,560 U.S., libraries worldwide could fund full open access to the world's estimated 1.5 million scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles produced every year at less than 30% of current annual global academic library journal expenditures.

The purpose of this broad-brush, macroeconomic analysis is to sweep aside the complexities of transitioning to open access, to view just how achievable open access is from an economic standpoint.

The method for calculating these savings involves:

STM Revenue
  • Take the total STM annual journal revenue as reported by Mark Ware for STM of 8 billion pounds sterling and convert to about 12.6 billion U.S.
  • Divide by .7 (approx. 70% of STM journal revenue is from academic libraries according to Ware)
  • This gives $8.8 billion USD annual revenue to STM from academic libraries alone

Full open access at PLoS or BMC rates
  • PLoS average rate: multiply # of articles / PLoS journal by article processing fee for that journal, add and calculate average
  • BMC standard rate is from BMC webpage
  • Multiply by approx. 1.5 million scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles per year as discovered by Björk et al
Calculate the ratio and voila! Libraries CAN have our cake and eat it too - full open access with cost savings.

One key point: the average cost per article matters. To keep things simple, this macroanalysis only considers one business model for open access, and only two publishers.

Data Sources

BioMedCentral standard article processing charge - from BMC website Sept. 27, 2010.

Björk, Bo-Christer; Roosr, Annikki; Lauri, Mari. (2008). Global annual volume of peer reviewed scholarly articles and the share available via different open access options. ELPUB2008. Open Scholarship: Authority, Community, and Sustainability in the Age of Web 2.0 - Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Electronic Publishing held in Toronto, Canada 25-27 June 2008 / Edited by: Leslie Chan and Susanna Mornati.

PLoS average publication fee (2010):

Research Information Network (RIN). (2008). Activities, costs and funding flows in the scholarly communications system in the UK Retrieved from

Universal Currency Converter. Retrieved from September 27, 2010

Ware, Mark. (2009) The stm report: An overview of scientific and scholarly
journals publishing 2009. International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM). Retrieved from February 2010

To download a spreadsheet with calculations, go to the Economics of Scholarly Communication Dataverse.

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access and Economics 101 series, and is an update and correction of a post from 2009.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Wiley open access moves: scholarly societies pushing for OA?

Wiley just announced the hiring of a Senior Open Access Marketing Manager.

What's up? Perhaps this is a clue, from the press release: "About Open Access and Wiley-Blackwell

Wiley-Blackwell supports any business model that is financially sustainable and scalable, and is able to maintain quality and the stewardship of the authoritative version of record. Together with a number of our society partners, we are experimenting with alternative models. In addition, several of our journals offer free access to older content and to certain types of material, such as review articles."

Comment: way to go, scholarly societies!!!

Note that scholarly societies could likely go for full open access at much lower rates for article processing fees on their own. With full OA, dissemination is as simple as registering with DOAJ and making the journal web-accessible. These are established journals which are already well-indexed, a factor that would not be impacted with the switch to OA. Editors should check with their local libraries, as many have free or very low cost journal hosting services. It is probably more than worthwhile to check rates with other OA publishers, such as CO-ACTION publishing, BioMedCentral, and Hindawi.

Almost half (47%) of Wiley's journal revenue financial report (detailed report - downloadable from, p. 13.