How big is OA journals' readership?

From: Alexei Koudinov <sparcoaforum_at_NEUROBIOLOGYOFLIPIDS.ORG>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 00:33:22 +0200

15 January 2004

Dear Colleagues,

I read with interest a New Observer article "<>How to get data out" (Wed, Jan 14, 2004) that was announced at the SPARC Open Access Forum.

The concluding paragraph of this article stated:

"Researchers are now called upon to do something revolutionary, not only for their own good but for the good of science. 500,000 hits on the PLoS server on its first day of operation give some reason for optimism."

I beleive that the statistics for the very first day of PLoS operation [accompanied (read lifted) by a worldwide PR compaign in PLoS support] is not representative our outdated. As the quoted above New Observer report come out three months after the PLoS Biology was lauched it would be great to generate recent daily or monthly statistics, so both readers and OA architects would have a better picture on how PLoS Biology is taken by the end users, i.e. whether scientific community members indeed read PLoS. Such statistics is thought to be a major factor to define future impact of an open access publication as there will be no barrier for an access.

Readers' statistics, however, is usually difficult to obtain for both subscription-based and open access journals.

BMC lists such info for <>most-viewed articles only. Of many journals published with the assistance of the HighWire Press I found freely available readership statistics for British Medical Journal (<>BMJ visitors' statistics) and the journals published by American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). ASBMB is named an Open Access Publisher in the article "<>ASBMB: The Open Access Publisher" currently accessible at several ASBMB titles home page, including <>J Lipid Research and <>J Biological <>Chemistry ; Both titles bear <>Blue Logo of Open Access). Other titles published by ASBMB are listed at .

Each ASBMB journal home page includes "Advertising Instructions". Such pages at <>J Biological Chemistry and <>J Lipid Research list info on printed pages per year, circulation, online users' number (80,000 users/week for JBC) and visitors' statistics by hits, 5,000,000 and 140,000 hits/month for JBC and JLR, respectively.

I focused on JBC and JLR, because the first title "is the most-often cited research journal in the world and the #1 journal in biochemistry and molecular biology" (<>according to JBC advertising Info). The second title is directly related to the journal <>Neurobiology of LIpids that I founded and lead.

J Lip Research hit parade is 140,000 hits/month and had a recent lower value of 90,000 hits/month. This journal is defined as "a key resource for original articles and reviews in the broadly defined area of biological lipids since 1959. It has the highest impact factor of any peer-reviewed journal devoted solely to the field of lipids and lipoproteins. The focus is on the biology of lipids in health and disease" (statistics and quote is from just viewed <>JLR advertising info).

The current readership (by hits) for the <>Neurobiology of Lipids (that is published since 2002 at the cost below one article publication at BioMedCentral, see my <>earlier comments) is 36,550 +/- 4, 908 , n=4 months, not a bad number for a new journal dealing with just a portion of the subject of more general J Lip Research published for near fifty years, and having not comparable with Neurobiology of Lipids content. NoL statistics for individual articles is <>also available.

The current online access statistics for another journal related to ASBMB but not bearing Open Access label, <>FASEB Journal is 295,000 hits/month. "The FASEB Journal, a multidisciplinary resource for the life sciences, has one of the highest impact factors (7.252) in the biology category" (<>FASEB J advertising info viewed today).

I welcome PLoS and other OA publishers to disclose the readership statistics for their journals.

Perhaps, librarians could have and analyze access statistics for Open Access journals vs Subscription based journals, so, the numbers could justify the trend and hopefully advocate for Open Access.


Alexei Koudinov, MD, PhD
Neurobiology of Lipids

Competing interest declaration by A. Koudinov: I do not have any competing financial interest. I am a founding, managing and publishing editor of the Neurobiology of Lipids, an unpaid position. <>Neurobiology of Lipids (ISSN 1683-5506) has no affiliation with any professional association, publisher, industry member, commercial enterprise, public or government organization. The viewpoint presented in the above letter is my personal view.
Received on Thu Jan 15 2004 - 22:33:22 GMT

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