May 28, 2022

Digital Science Publishes New Report/Data on the “Ascent of Open Access” (OA Trends 2000-2016)

From Digital Science:

2019-01-24_08-18-08The Ascent of Open Access, which is an analysis of the Open Access landscape since the turn of the millennium. We’ve used Dimensions and the data that it contains from Unpaywall to analyse Open Access trends between 2000 and 2016. The underlying dataset includes all publications with a DOI or PubMed identifier.

Key findings from the report are:

  • The volume of Open Access articles has clearly been rising in recent years. However, the overall volume of research has also been rising.

  • Countries that have invested in Open Access have typically increased their level of international collaboration.

  • Open Access, Funded and Internationally Collaborative papers account for just 6.3% of all output but garner 15.2% of the citations.

  • The UK’s substantial commitment to Open Access through successive waves of initiative has clearly been a significant strategic advantage, and has allowed them to retain a highly-ranked position in Open Access output.

  • China has gone from not appearing in the top 12 producers in both volume of articles and OA papers in 2010 to being the second highest producer overall and the third highest in OA (2016).

  • India’s more measured success is still no less remarkable – not in the top 12 producers in either category in 2010 to being ninth highest producer overall and twelfth highest in OA (2016).

  • All countries appear to be increasing the proportion of their research that is collaborative.

  • Countries that have invested in Open Access have managed to stay near the top of the output rankings.

  • Notably, the UK has “punched above its weight” through successive initiatives to champion the cause of OA – Over 52% of the UK’s output is available through Open Access channels, accounting for 7% of world output.

  • Japan, initially a great proponent of OA in 2010, has descended in the table as its capacity to collaborate internationally has waned versus the average.

  • Brazil is another success story, second only to the UK, with 51.2% of its research output available through Open Access channels.

  • Countries with slower rates of development such as Japan, Canada or France have descended in the table while countries with smaller research bases have also not been able to keep up with overall production rates in spite of their significant investments (Switzerland, Netherlands).

  • A significant outlier is Australia, which has managed to maintain a position in the top 12 through aggressive growth in Open Access to offset the relative size of their university sector.

  • The US remained fairly stagnant between 2012 and 2016 as OA rates peaked at around 41% and their world share of OA actually reduced by around 4% as the rest of the research world (and notably China) began to produce more, with more of it available through Open Access routes.

  • In general, we observed that it is better to publish in Open Access venues to optimise citation and Altmetric attention. Both measures are improved by being funded and collaborating internationally.

Trend in Number of Publications by Open Access Type for All Publications. (Source: “Ascent of Open Access”; Digital Science; Jan. 2019.)

Open Access Classifications used in the report:

  • Pure Gold: Version Of Record (VOR) is free under an open licence from a full OA journal
  • Bronze: Freely available on publisher page, but without an open licence
  • Hybrid: Version Of Record (VOR) is free under an open licence in a paid-access journal
  • Green, Published: Free copy of published version in an OA repository
  • Green, Accepted: Free copy of accepted version in an OA repository
  • Green, Submitted: Free copy of submitted version, or where version is unknown, in an OA repository

Direct to Full Text Report
16 pages; PDF.

Direct to Figshare Access

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.