Low income countries have the highest percentages of open access publication: A systematic computational analysis of the biomedical literature

Abstract:  Open access publication rates have been steadily increasing over time. In spite of this growth, academics in low income settings struggle to gain access to the full canon of research literature. While the vast majority of open access repositories and funding organizations with open access policies are based in high income countries, the geographic patterns of open access publication itself are not well characterized. In this study, we developed a computational approach to better understand the topical and geographical landscape of open access publications in the biomedical research literature. Surprisingly, we found a strong negative correlation between country per capita income and the percentage of open access publication. Open access publication rates were particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa, but vastly lower in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and East Asia and the Pacific. These effects persisted when considering papers only bearing authors from within each region and income group. However, papers resulting from international collaborations did have a higher percentage of OA than single-country papers, and inter-regional collaboration increased OA publication for all world regions. There was no clear relationship between the number of open access policies in a region and the percentage of open access publications in that region. To understand the distribution of open access across topics of biomedical research, we examined keywords that were most enriched and depleted in open access papers. Keywords related to genomics, computational biology, animal models, and infectious disease were enriched in open access publications, while keywords related to the environment, nursing, and surgery were depleted in open access publications. This work identifies geographic regions and fields of research that could be priority areas for open access advocacy. The finding that open access publication rates are highest in sub-Saharan Africa and low income countries suggests that factors other than open access policy strongly influence authors’ decisions to make their work openly accessible. The high proportion of OA resulting from international collaborations indicates yet another benefit of collaborative research. Certain applied fields of medical research, notably nursing, surgery, and environmental fields, appear to have a greater proportion of fee-for-access publications, which presumably creates barriers that prevent researchers and practitioners in low income settings from accessing the literature in those fields.

Science Foundation Ireland’s 2018 Annual Report highlights 43% increase in research funding from industry to €46 million – Irish Tech News

“At the end of 2018, 45% of SFI-funded original and review articles were open access, bringing us closer to our goal of achieving full and immediate open access for all SFI-funded research publications by 2021. This increased access allows the societal and economic benefits of our funded research to go further. As we build on this continued growth and look to 2019 and beyond, Science Foundation Ireland’s new strategy for 2020-2025will aim to empower our research community, focusing on the areas where we can bring the most value.”

Rate of growth for CC BY articles in fully-OA journals continues for OASPA members – OASPA

Two charts. One shows that full (non-hybrid) OA journals use CC-BY far more often than they use any other open license, and far more often hybrid journals use CC-BY. The other shows that even among hybrid journals, CC-BY is more common than any other open license. 

Publishers fail to stem tide of illicit ResearchGate uploads | Times Higher Education (THE)

Publishers say that tens of thousands of copyright-infringing research papers are still being uploaded to the online academic network ResearchGate every month, making it easier for universities to ditch their journal subscription contacts because so many articles are now available for free.

Since October 2017, the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, which includes Wiley, Elsevier and Oxford University Press, have tried to pressure ResearchGate into taking down what they say are millions of copyrighted articles on the platform, including launching legal action in the US and Germany.

But their latest report shows that since then, close to 1 million copyright-infringing articles have been uploaded to ResearchGate, an average of 58,000 a month….”

Increasing open access publications serves publishers’ commercial interests

Publishing for free is great, but when journals start charging researchers fees, they don’t lose business. A new journal might introduce a fee after a free introductory period. For example, when eLife introduced a US$2,500 publication fee in 2017, it still published more articles in 2017 and 2018 than it had in 2016. Similarly, Royal Society Open Scienceintroduced a US$1,260 fee in 2018 and continued to grow….

I then looked at the four biggest commercial open-access publishers that relied on publication fees: BMC, Frontiers, MDPI and Hindawi. I tracked 319 of their journals, their listed prices and the number of research articles they published between 2012 and 2018. I fed this data into a statistical model and it showed academics preferred to publish in more expensive journals.

The two publishers who raised their prices the most, Frontiers and MDPI, also saw the most growth in the average number of articles in each journal….”

Amelica: First Biannual Report

“AmeliCA has reached its first six months of experience seeking to consolidate a collaborative, sustainable, protected and non-commercial Open Access solution for Latin America and the Global South. AmeliCA’s goal —as well as the organizations’ that take part in it— is to build a sustained, academy-led and academy-owned communication system. AmeliCA is a mutual agreement, where Latin America and the Global South shape strategies. Its achievements are presented in this First biannual report….”

OAUNI – wihoforschung

From Google’s English: “In view of the importance of open access (OA), the project investigates the question of how the publication output of German universities has changed in the direction of open access and what role disciplinary and organizational factors play in taking up OA. The aim is to describe the state of development of OA publishing for all universities in Germany and to develop empirical explanatory models. The collaborative partners work cooperatively on the following questions: While SUB Göttingen develops novel OA detection sources such as Unpaywall Data for bibliometric analyzes, the I²SoS subproject investigates determinants of OA publication behavior.

The project is scientifically-reflective-oriented in its aims and thus differs from initiatives aimed at the infrastructural implementation of Open Access (OA). The research design identifies three workspaces that are processed across all locations: 1) University OA publication profiles, 2) Determinants of university OA profiles, 3) Results assurance by means of guided expert interviews. The quantitative data basis is provided by the data infrastructure of the Competence Center Bibliometrics (section Web of Science) and novel OA detection sources. The explanatory models are also based on established data sources of science research and university reporting.

The project aims to improve understanding of current change processes of the scientific publishing system. It therefore addresses current challenges in the areas of scientific literacy and social participation in the scientific cognitive process. The results, including the data and analytical routines, are prepared for specific target groups and, if legally possible, published under an open license….”

The Rise of Open Science in Psychology, a Preliminary Report

Open science is on the rise. Across disciplines, there are increasing rates of sharing data, making available underlying materials and protocols, and preregistering studies and analysis plans.  Hundreds of services have emerged to support open science behaviors at every stage of the research lifecycle.  But, what proportion of the research community is practicing open science? Where is penetration of these behaviors strongest and weakest?  Answers to these questions are important for evaluating progress in culture reform and for strategic planning of where to invest resources next.  

 

The hardest part of getting meaningful answers to these questions is quantifying the population that is NOT doing the behaviors.  For example, in a recent post, Nici Pfeiffer summarized the accelerating growth of OSF users on the occasion of hitting 150,000 registered users.  That number and non-linear growth suggests cultural movement associated with this one service, but how much movement?…”