The impact of free access to the scientific literature: a review of recent research

Abstract:  Objectives:

The paper reviews recent studies that evaluate the impact of free access (open access) on the behavior of scientists as authors, readers, and citers in developed and developing nations. It also examines the extent to which the biomedical literature is used by the general public.


The paper is a critical review of the literature, with systematic description of key studies.


Researchers report that their access to the scientific literature is generally good and improving. For authors, the access status of a journal is not an important consideration when deciding where to publish. There is clear evidence that free access increases the number of article downloads, although its impact on article citations is not clear. Recent studies indicate that large citation advantages are simply artifacts of the failure to adequately control for confounding variables. The effect of free access on the general public’s use of the primary medical literature has not been thoroughly evaluated.


Recent studies provide little evidence to support the idea that there is a crisis in access to the scholarly literature. Further research is needed to investigate whether free access is making a difference in non-research contexts and to better understand the dissemination of scientific literature through peer-to-peer networks and other informal mechanisms.

The Open Access Citation Advantage: Does It Exist and What Does It Mean for Libraries? | Lewis | Information Technology and Libraries

Abstract:  The last literature review of research on the existence of an Open Access Citation Advantage (OACA) was published in 2011 by Philip M. Davis and William H. Walters. This paper reexamines the conclusions reached by Davis and Walters by providing a critical review of OACA literature that has been published 2011, and explores how increases in OA publication trends could serve as a leveraging tool for libraries against the high costs of journal subscriptions.

The ambassadors for open access standards in the global South – SciDev.Net

“Indian OA journals have submitted 2578 requests since 2014 to be included in the DOAJ; Brazil clocked in at 2,048 requests, while Indonesia ranks first with 3,662 requests.

But roughly half of the submissions get rejected, usually because of their low quality, Tom Olijhoek, editor-in-chief of the DOAJ, tells SciDev.Net….

A journal may be genuine but ill-informed about standards, or ill-equipped to meet them.

Another, more sinister explanation is that India is home to a growing number of predatory journals …”

A Clean House at the Directory of Open Access Journals – ACRL TechConnect

“The work that DOAJ is doing to improve transparency and the screening process is very important for open access advocates, who will soon have a tool that they can trust to provide much more complete information for scholars and librarians. For too long we have been forced to use the concept of a list of “questionable” or even “predatory” journals. A directory of journals with robust standards and easy to understand interface will be a fresh start for the rhetoric of open access journals….”

Universalisation of Scientifc Dissemination

“This is a presentation given on September 28th by Dr. Eric Archambault, world expert in bibliometrics and founder of 1science, during Scielo 20 Years Conference in São Paulo, Brazil.The panel was entitled ” Open Access – routes towards universalization : gold and hybrid journals, green, and others” His contribution, “Universalization of (OA) scientific dissemination”, demonstrates the limitation of traditional databases in measuring OA and shows how the 1findr product has universal discovery and inclusive measures.”

Coalition, a national partnership providing sustainable support for journals transitioning to open access | Public Knowledge Project

“Created in the spring of 2017, Coalition aims to establish an infrastructure dedicated to the digital production and dissemination of research results in the Canadian humanities and social sciences (HSS). The project is now guided by an advisory committee with representatives from various stakeholders within academia.


Developed by Érudit and the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), two leading Canadian organizations focused on the digital dissemination of scholarly publications, Coalition is a pan-Canadian, non-commercial initiative. Its goal is to strengthen the collaboration between Canadian stakeholders (platforms and dissemination tools, journals, libraries, university presses, etc.) by means of a national infrastructure where each plays a complementary role in the scientific production chain.

Coalition is supported by 53 university libraries, all members of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN). It is also funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Université de Montréal, Université Laval, Université du Québec à Montréal, Simon Fraser University and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – société et culture….”


“Coalition is a strategic partnership created by Érudit and the Public Knowledge Project in the spring of 2017. Coalition is dedicated to the advancement of research dissemination and digital publishing in the social sciences and humanities in Canada and abroad….”

Bundesminister Faßmann für Open Access | MEINUNGSBAROMETER.INFO

Prof. Dr. Heinz Fassmann, Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research of the Republic of Austria endorses Plan S and answers some questions about it.

“Critics argue that in the case of an open access obligation, publishers could no longer perform the quality reviews to the same extent – how do you see that?

I can not understand this argument. In any case, I have no empirical evidence for it. Quality assurance is always carried out by scientists without any remuneration. Either the subscribing author or the author of the article pays an Article Processing Charge for publication. I do not see a financial problem there. But one thing is the peer review, which, however, is not related to the cash flow, but to the number of experts who have to evaluate an increasing number of publications. With such divergent quantitative developments, qualitative problems can arise. Incidents from the past have shown that. There are, however, indications that quality assurance in OA journals sometimes works better than with classic journals. Incidentally, the question of quality not only arises with the submissions, but also with the publishers. Therefore, initiatives are to be welcomed that try to introduce quality criteria here as well. One of these is the Directory of Open Access Journals….”