Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact
Lawrence (2001)found computer science articles that were openly accessible (OA) on the Web were cited more. We replicated this in physics. We tested 1,307,038 articles published across 12 years (1992-2003) in 10 disciplines (Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Health, Political Science, Economics, Education, Law, Business, Management). A robot trawls the Web for full-texts using reference metadata ISI citation data (signal detectability d'=2.45; bias = 0.52). Percentage OA (relative to total OA + NOA) articles varies from 5%-16% (depending on discipline, year and country) and is slowly climbing annually (correlation r=.76, sample size N=12, probability p < 0.005). Comparing OA and NOA articles in the same journal/year, OA articles have consistently more citations, the advantage varying from 36%-172% by discipline and year. Comparing articles within six citation ranges (0, 1, 2-3, 4-7, 8-15, 16+ citations), the annual percentage of OA articles is growing significantly faster than NOA within every citation range (r > .90, N=12, p < .0005) and the effect is greater with the more highly cited articles (r = .98, N=6, p < .005). Causality cannot be determined from these data, but our prior finding of a similar pattern in physics, where percent OA is much higher (and even approaches 100% in some subfields), makes it unlikely that the OA citation advantage is merely or mostly a self-selection bias (for making only one's better articles OA). Further research will analyze the effect's timing, causal components and relation to other variables.