Proportion Open Access in Biomedical Sciences

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2006 19:00:04 +0000

Comments on:

    Matsubayashi, Mamiko and Kurata, Keiko and Sakai, Yukiko and
    Morioka, Tomoko and Kato, Shinya and Mine, Shinji and Ueda, Shuichi
    (2006) Current Status of Open Access in Biomedical Field - the
    Comparison of Countries Related to the Impact of National Policies.
    2006 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science
    and Technology, Austin, Texas.

This study randomly sampled 4756 biomedical articles published
between January and September in 2005 and indexed in PubMed,
hand-checking how many of them were OA, and if so how: via OA journal
(gold) or self-archiving (green, via IRs or websites). Its findings:

    75% of the sampled 4756 articles were available online.
    25% of the sampled 4756 articles were OA.

    Over 70% of the 1189 (25%) OA articles were OA via OA or Hybrid
    OA journals
    10.9% of the 1189 (25%) OA articles were OA via IRs or websites
    (6.0% and 4.9% respectively).

    20.6% of the articles in journals with an Impact Factor were OA.
    30.8% of the articles in journals with no Impact Factor were OA.

    Countries were compared, but the variation is more likely in national
    practices than in national policies.

The authors note that their 25% OA estimate in biomedical sciences in
2005 is higher than Hajjem et al's s estimate of 15% OA in biology and 6%
OA in health (but Hajjem et al's sample was for 1992-2003, based only
on articles indexed by Thompson ISI, and explicitly excluded articles
published in OA journals, hence the relevant comparison figure is
the present study;s 10.9% for self-archiving).

The authors also note that their estimate of 10.9% self-archiving is
lower than Swan's estimate of 49% (but Swan's sample was for all
disciplines, and the 49% referred only to the proportion of respondents who
had self-archived at least one article).

Presumably "articles in journals that had an Impact Factor" means articles
in journals indexed by Thompson ISI. If so, then the finding that fewer
ISI articles are OA means that fewer ISI journals are OA and/or fewer
authors of articles in non-ISI journals self-archive.

There is considerable scope for variability here (by year, by field,
by quality, and by country), but it is certainly true that fewer ISI
journals than non-ISI journals are OA (though "Hybrid OA"/Open-Choice
may change that).

Several studies -- from Lawrence 2001 to Hajjem et al 2005 -- have
reported that there is a positive correlation between citation-bracket
and OA (the higher the citations, the more likely the article is OA), and
there is disagreement over how much of this effect is a causal Quality
Advantage (OA causing higher citations for higher quality articles)
or a self-selection Quality Bias (authors of higher quality articles
being more likely to make them OA, one way or the other). The present
results don't resolve this, as they go both ways.

Clearly, more studies are needed. But even more than that, more OA is

      Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-Year
Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it
Increases Research Citation Impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin 28(4)
pp. 39-47.
      Swan, A. (2006) The culture of Open Access: researchers' views and
responses, in Jacobs, N., Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and
Economic Aspects, chapter 7. Chandos.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Nov 09 2006 - 19:30:00 GMT

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