The longitudinal development of full immediate OA article volume spanning 2000 to 2011 is presented visually in Figure and numerically in Table , where a breakdown of the total volume is provided for articles split into three different categories: online-only journals that require an article-processing charge, online-only journals that do not require an article-processing charge, and journals that still output print versions for subscribers but have all articles available OA online. It is important to point out that journals still producing a print version might also require an article-processing charge in addition to having income from subscriptions. However, such differentiation is not provided here due to the relative rarity of such journals as well as a desire to focus on these three mutually exclusive business models specifically.
Annual volumes of articles in full immediate open access journals, split by type of open access journal.
Estimated annual article and journal counts in full immediate open access journals
Overall there has been growth in the annual output among all three categories since the year 2000, going from a total volume of 20,700 articles in 2000 to 340,000 in 2011. Not depicted in Figure but provided in Table is the number of active OA journals for each respective year (journals with at least one article published during the respective year), which has increased from 744 journals in the year 2000 to 6,713 in 2011. The average number of articles per journal has also seen a constant increase, with an average of 26 articles per journal in 2000, 33 in 2005, and 51 for 2011. However, a reminder about the skewed nature of article distribution among journals is relevant here. There is a handful of journals publishing more than 1,000 articles per year and thousands of journals publishing only a few articles annually.
Inspecting the internal structure of the total article mass reveals some major shifts that have happened over the course of a decade. Journals that also publish a parallel print version, which are often old, established journals that decided to make the online version free when they started putting their content on the Web, provided the majority of the OA content up until the year 2008 where, for the first time, online-only journals took the lead in terms of output volume. Since 2008, the online-only journals have sustained a much stronger growth while the OA output provided by journals outputting a print version has plateaued to annual volumes between 100,000 and 110,000 articles. The latter group includes a lot of society journals registered with dedicated portals like SciELO [26
], Redalyc [27
] and J-Stage [28
] providing the technical platform for electronic publishing. Journals with author-processing charges have seen breakout growth during the last three years, going from 80,700 articles in 2009 to 166,700 articles in 2011.
Cross-analysis of the sample with the titles listed in Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge index and Elsevier's Scopus index was performed, only including the titles present in the respective index to calculate the share of OA articles of all peer-reviewed articles. Table provides the main results of this analysis, presented as longitudinal breakdowns of publisher-provided OA in the two indexing services. Nearly half of all full immediate OA articles published during 2011 were outside of Scopus and two thirds outside of Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge, meaning that a large portion of article OA article volume lacks coverage in major publication indexes. This issue highlights the importance of using manual data collection methods in OA studies because data available from indexes only provide part of the total picture. In addition to the results concerning full immediate OA journals, Table also contains volume data for two other types of publisher-provided OA in each respective index: delayed OA and hybrid OA.
Proportion of publisher-provided (gold) open access in major indexes
Of the 1.66 million articles indexed by Scopus in 2011, 11% were published in full immediate OA journals, 0.7% as hybrid OA and 5.2% in journals that have a maximum OA delay of 12 months. Together, these account for almost 17% of the total article volume in the whole index. The figures for articles indexed by Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge are comparable to those of Scopus, with a total publisher-provided OA rate of 16.2% for 2011. Of the 1.29 million articles indexed by Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge, 7.9% are available in full immediate OA journals, 0.7% as hybrid OA and 6.4% in journals that have a maximum OA delay of 12 months. Overall the results suggest that there has been an increase of about one percentage point annually in relative OA volume in both Scopus and Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge during 2008 to 2011.
Figure presents the longitudinal development of OA publisher output as measured by the number of articles output by publishers based in different regions of the world. This figure, and all that follow, only includes full immediate OA journals, excluding delayed and hybrid OA. Prior to interpretation it needs to be noted that this is a publisher-centric analysis. In some cases, the publisher is not registered within the same country, or even region of the world, as the journal. The results suggest that Latin American countries were early to have substantial OA output, possibly due to the early availability of the SciELO portal. However, the region has not increased its output at a similar rate as North America, Asia or Europe, who have multiplied their outputs between 2005 and 2011.
Open access publisher output across geographic regions.
Figure presents the total OA article volume for 2000, 2005 and 2011 split according to publisher type. The analysis shows that the early years of OA publishing were largely driven by scientific societies, professional associations, universities and their departments as well as individual scientists. Scientific societies and universities have maintained strong growth throughout the decade, while scientist-driven publication has been overshadowed by the article volume produced by the more formally organized publisher types. The most dramatic development since 2005 is the rapid increase in articles published by commercial publishers, jumping from 13,400 articles in 2005 to 119,900 in 2011, resulting in commercial publishers currently being the most common publisher of OA articles. The category of professional non-commercial publishers is a new type of publisher that has rapidly emerged during the last few years, largely attributed to the journals published by the Public Library of Science.
Open access publisher type analysis.
Figure presents the OA article volumes for the years 2000, 2005 and 2011 split across the major scientific disciplines, with an additional category for general science journals. Throughout the decade, articles in journals broadly related to biomedicine have held the lead in terms of article volume, and since 2005 the gap to the other disciplines has been further extended. Biomedical journals published 120,900 articles in 2011, constituting 35.5% of the total OA article output for the year. In second place in terms of volume for 2011 is the social sciences and humanities, almost tied with earth and environmental sciences in third place, publishing 56,000 and 54,900 articles respectively. Coming in fourth place in terms of size is engineering, which is the discipline that has seen the most dramatic relative growth between 2005 and 2011, from publishing only 4,800 articles in 2005 to 37,500 articles in 2011. In fifth place for 2011 is physics and astronomy with 16,000 articles; however, previous studies have shown there to be particularly strong practice and supporting infrastructure for parallel publication within this discipline, potentially lessening the demand for OA journals [21
]. Chemistry and chemical engineering is sixth in terms of size with 12,700 articles in 2011, followed by general science journals and mathematics at the tail end with 12,600 and 7,200 articles respectively. The category of general science journals is a relatively new one with only marginal volume until recently. Journals belonging to this category have little or no limitations with regards to research subject or scope. Though it could be argued that PLOS ONE
is a general science journal, the vast majority of actual articles published so far have been within the scope of biomedicine, thus that specific journal was placed within the biomedicine category for this coarse disciplinary breakdown.
Open access across major scientific disciplines.