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Open Access Peer-Reviewed Papers Have Reached a Tipping Point and Become the Mainstream

Open Access Peer-Reviewed Papers Have Reached a Tipping Point and Become the Mainstream

A European Commission funded study claims that more and more peer-reviewed papers are available freely for the public in the form of open access publications. In the above figure, the purple curve represents the total amount of peer-reviewed papers that are published on free-to-read journals, the green curve shows the amount of papers published on online archives and “hybrid” journals, the red curve reveals the total number of papers in the form of open access publications, while the blue curve illustrates the statistically adjusted total number of open access papers.

 Recently, a lot of people are dedicated in “open access”, which allows the public to access the original scientific articles freely, and today, the endeavor seems to reach a milestone. A European Commission funded research reveals that half of the papers published in two years can be accessed freely. The first author of this study, Eric Archambault suggests that the study indicates that open access has reached a tipping point, and it will now start to accelerate. While, some other researchers have different points of view and according to their critical comments, the result given in the study is over-optimistic.

Open access seems to be thriving in recent decades. On August 22, U.S. science agencies send the White House draft plans demonstrating how that plan to make government-funded research papers available freely, generally within one year of publication. While the European Commission is soon going to require most of the articles it funds to be free within six months. “Open access is here to stay,” said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European commissioner for research, innovation, and science, in a statement.

The open access movement took off more than ten years ago. In nowadays, some journals requires their articles to be available freely immediately they get published and the authors need to pay the cost, while other articles that are published on traditional subscription-based journals and they can be published freely on the author’s websites or through a government or institutional archive, usually after a 6- or 12-month “embargo” so that the subscription revenue of publishers can be protected.

The study of Archambault suggests that up to 2011, two forms of open access papers add up to 50% of the total amount of articles and are still increasing in a speed of 2% each year. However, some researchers challenge this conclusion. Stevan Harnar from Université du Québec à Montréal thinks that “delayed open access” can’t be counted in “open access”. Fred Dyllla, executive director of the American Institute of Physics in College Park, Maryland, argues that the expanding trend of open access is because public policy mandates drive it but not because it’s favorable economics.

Although the research is not perfect, the Archambault analysis is good news, says open-access advocate Peter Suber, director of Harvard University’s Office for Scholarly Communication. “Open access is becoming the mainstream,” he says, “When we’re on a long journey, we have a right to celebrate when the odometer rolls over at some round number of miles, even if we’re perfectly aware that the round number is somewhat arbitrary.”

Source Science Insider,Free Papers Have Reached a Tipping Point, Study Claims

Image source:E. Archambault et. al., Proportion of Open Access Peer-Reviewed Papers at the European and World Levels–2004-2011, June 2013, Science-Metrix Inc./news.sciencemag.org