Open Access Growth Surprises with Numbers

Consider these facts:

  • An estimated 30 percent of scientific literature published in 2011 may be available on the Web at no charge through open access;1
  • The rate at which researchers self-archive their work in repositories has increased 1 percent per year (2005–2010) to 21 percent;ibid
  • An in-depth analysis shows the number of open access journals has increased over 900 percent from 2000–2011, with the average number of articles doubling.

Open access has proven to be a powerful force that shows no signs of slowing down in 2013.

PMC, the National Institutes of Health archive of freely available full-text journal articles, began in 2000 with two journals and 2,345 articles, and by 2012 grew to include 3,374 contributing journals and over 2.6 million articles, an increase in articles of 110,874 percent.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), a quality-controlled listing of open access scholarly journals, originated with 34 journals in 2002. It now lists 8,527, with 4,250 searchable at the article-level.

Open access articles and other materials are not well-indexed in commercial databases, making repositories a valuable addition to search strategies. Global directories of repositories have grown rapidly in response, and serve as powerful search engines, and include:

Quality control of open access journals is a concern shared by many. The 2013 Beall’s List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers entries increased from 24 to 260 (1,083 percent) over 2012, with a 19.2 percent (50/260) overlap with DOAJ, which may reflect a difference in inclusion criteria.

The increased number of options for OA publishing brings a caveat: it remains the duty of authors to judge the quality of each journal on its own merits as new publications appear and mature, and experimentation in open access business models continues.

1. Poynder, R. “Open Access by the Numbers” [Interview with Y. Gargouri], Open and Shut? 2011. (17 January 2013).

2. Ibid.

3. Laakso, M, Bjork, B.C. “Anatomy of Open Access Publishing: A Study of Longitudinal Development and Internal Structure,” BMC Medicine 10 (1): 124, (17 January 2013).

~ Andrea Ketchum