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Dramatic rise in number of authors publishing in open access journals, independent survey finds

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BMC (BioMed Central)

Twenty-nine percent of senior authors questioned say that they have published in an open access journal, according to a new independent survey. This is up eighteen percentage points compared to a similar question asked in a study carried out in 2004 by the same researchers, a two-and-a-half-fold increase in just twelve months. BioMed Central is delighted that independent research is now available that confirms its own experience of the continuing growth of open access publishing.

"New Journal Publishing Models: An International Survey of Senior Researchers" was produced by CIBER, an independent publishing think tank based at City University in London. The study, published in September 2005, is based on a survey of 5513 authors "typically principal investigators or research group leaders" who had published in an ISI-indexed journal during 2004. It is the follow up to a previous CIBER study conducted in 2004.

Ian Rowlands and Dave Nicholas, the authors of the report, found that "the research community is now much more aware of the open access issue." The report authors write "There has been a large rise in authors knowing quite a lot about open access (up 10 percentage points from the 2004 figure) and a big fall in authors knowing nothing at all about open access (down 25 points)."

Thirty percent of authors surveyed claimed to know "a lot" or "quite a lot" about open access journals. This is up from 18% in the 2004 survey. Altogether 81% of authors claim to have some awareness of open access, up from 66% in 2004.

Rowlands and Nicholas found that "Authors strongly believe that, as a result of open access, articles will become more accessible…". 75% of authors surveyed agreed with the statement "High prices make it difficult to access the journals literature".

The researchers also found that "senior authors and researchers believe downloads to be a more credible measure of the usefulness of research than traditional citations. " Open access has been shown elsewhere to lead higher downloads of articles. According to PNAS publisher Ken Fulton, "PNAS Open Access articles receive 50% more full-text accesses and PDF downloads than subscription-access articles in the first month after publication and maintain higher usage in subsequent months." The average research article published in BioMed Central's journals in the last year has received more than 1100 accesses in the first 3 months following publication, and BioMed Central recently introduced a "Highly accessed" logo to identify those articles which have received a large number of accesses for their age.


The CIBER report was commissioned by the Publishers Association and the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers. The full report is available from CIBER's website at:

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