Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Dramatic Growth of Open Access: 30 indicators of growth beyond the ordinary

There has been a remarkably constant growth rate of scholarly journals since the 1600’s (De Solla Price, 1963, p. 17). Mabe (2003) calculates the average annual scholarly journal growth rate at 3.46% per year from the 1600’s to the present day, with an increase to 4.35% from 1946 to 1976 and subsequent fall to 3.26% after 1976.
This issue of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access highlights 30 indicators of open access growth that are beyond this background growth of scholarly works - in many cases far beyond, with a range of percentage growth from 5 - 89%. In some cases, high percentage growth reflects early start-ups (low starting figures), but in other cases there are very high growth rates on resources that were very, very large to begin with (these are the highlighted numbers below). Note that some numbers are rounded for ease of understanding; if precise numbers are required, please download the full dataset from the DGOA dataverse.

A special congratulations is in order to arXiv for recently surpassing the milestone of over 1 million documents. Note that these 30 indicators likely underestimate the growth of open access beyond the ordinary by a large factor, as this series focuses on just a few indicators of macro level growth of open access. To continue the momentum in 2015 open access advocates are encouraged to remember the vision of open access as unprecedented public good and not get caught up in the minutiae of implementation. Although the focus of this series is the numbers, a special mention to an exceptional open access policy recently announced by India's departments of Biotechnology and Science and Technology which represents a new model OA policy for the whole world.

Open access indicators with percentage growth above the 3.5% background growth of scholarly works in 2014
  • 89% growth - over 38,000 more journals that are free-to-read: the libraries collaborating on the Electronic Journals Library service added 38,865 journals that are free-to-read in 2014 for a total of 82,363 journals that can be read free of charge. This figure encompasses not only the fully open access, peer-reviewed journals included in DOAJ, but also the many journals that are free to read after an embargo period or that are of interest in an academic context without necessarily being peer reviewed. 
  • the Directory of Open Access Books was hopping in 2014, adding:
    •  863 books for a total of 2,482 (53% growth) 
    • 25 publishers for a total of 79 (46% growth).
  • the Internet Archive added:
    • 1.7 million texts (29% growth) for a total of 7.3 million texts
    • 107,000 movies (23% growth) for a total of 1.7 million movies
    • 400,000 audio recordings (22% growth) for a total of over 2.2 million concerts
    • 61 billion webpages (16% growth) for a total of 435 billion webpages
    • 12,000 concerts (10% growth) for a total of over 100,000 concerts
  • Highwire Press added:
    •  24 completely free sites for a total of 113 completely free sites, a 27% percentage increase 
    • close to 160,000 free articles (7% growth) for a total of close to 2.4 million 
    • 13 sites with free back issues (5% growth) for a total of 280 sites
  • the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) service added:
    • 12 million documents (21% growth) for a total of 68 million documents
    • 500 content providers (18% growth) for a total of over 3,000 content providers
  • PubMedCentral added
    • 483 journals (20% growth) that deposit selected articles for a total of  2,897 journals
    • 214 journals (18% growth) with immediate free access for a total of 1,402 journals
    • 180 journals (18% growth) with all articles open access for a total of 1,201 journals
    • 51 journals (18% growth) with some articles open access for a total of 338 journals
    • 224 full participation journals (16% growth) (all articles added to PMC) for a total of 1,618 journals
    • 250 actively participating journals (15% growth) for a total of 1,904 journals
    • 400,000 items (14% growth) for a total of 3.3 million items
    • 26 journals that deposit NIH-funded articles (10% growth) for a total of 299 journals 
  • DOAJ added:
    •  240,000 articles searchable at article level (15% growth) for a total of 1.8 million articles 
    • 12 countries (10% growth) for a total of 136 countries
    • close to 400 journals (7% growth) searchable at article level for a total of over 6 thousand journals
  • RePEC added 50,000 downloadable items (14% growth) for a total of 1.5 million items
  • Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN) added:
    • 55,000 fulltext papers (13% growth) for a total of 483,000 papers
    • close to 60 thousand abstracts (11% growth) for a total of close to 600 thousand abstracts
    • 27 thousand authors (11% growth) for a total of close to 270 thousand author
  • arXiv added close to 100,000 documents (11% growth) for a total of over a million documents
  • OpenDOAR added 175 repositories (7% growth) for a total of 2,729
For full data, see the Dramatic Growth of Open Access Dataverse:

A call to remember the vision of open access in 2015

As open access moves further and further from idea to reality, it's all too easy to get caught up in the minutiae of implementation: the procedures of developing open access archives, journals, books and other works and the development of the technology and services to make it happen, and to make the works attractive to use. In the process of developing OA initiatives, it may well be useful to develop and implement a variety of standards, new metrics and technical procedures. But in the process let's not confuse the means with the ends - let's keep our rationality rational (Morrison, 2012) and focused on the goals that we really want to achieve.

To further grow the momentum in 2015, let's remember the great vision of open access, as expressed in the first paragraph of the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative:

An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.
Special acknowledgement of a new leading-edge open access policy

The recently announced new open access policy of two of India's science departments represents the best of funding agency open access policy to date and includes important advances. There is a focus on green or open access archives and a call to develop the institutional repository system to implement the policy. This will ensure that the results of research funded by India remains open access and remains available to Indians - there is no substitute in OA policy for ensuring local control. The maximum embargoes are six months in the sciences and one year in the humanities and social sciences. The major advance is inclusion of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment instructing evaluators not to consider impact factor or other metrics in assessing the work of researchers, but rather focus on the quality of the work per se. This is an absolutely critical step in addressing the systemic dysfunction in the scholarly communication system I have described elsewhere (Morrison, 2012), facilitating a shift to rational rationality, a system that is free to prioritize the advancement of scholarly knowledge, the knowledge commons, rather than the imperfect measures people have devised as heuristic devices.


Mabe, M. (2003). The growth and number of journals. Serials, 16(2), 191-197. Retrieved August 27, 2011 from,16,24;journal,26,72;linkingpublicationresults,1:107730,1

Morrison, H. (2012). Freedom for scholarship in the internet age.  Doctoral dissertation, Simon Fraser University, Department of Communication. The second chapter discusses the theme of irrational rationality, drawing from the work begun by Weber. This is also called instrumental rationality, and in brief is our tendency to develop tools, techniques and measures to help us achieve our goals, only to become slaves to the measures.

Price, D. J. d. S. (1963). Little science, big science. New York: Columbia University Press.

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 year end Dramatic Growth of Open Access comment post

If you have news about the dramatic growth of open access in 2014 that you would like to share with others, please do so as a comment to this post. This year I'm skipping the usual early year-end edition due to lack of time, but the final year end (Dec. 31) will continue as usual. Please note that I may not be keeping up with of the usual social media for OA, so reader alerts via comments would be most appreciated.